Sperm, which has become paired in the male opossum’s reproductive tract, will move through the lateral vaginal canals and become separate again in the female’s tract. They are generally non aggressive, playing dead when confronted by predators. Opossums are usually found under decks and in sheds. Our expert wildlife technicians have years of experience trapping and evicting critters of all kinds. Opossums are a fairly new arrival in Canada and are likely to continue moving, according to Canadian environmental authorities. Winter can be challenging for opossums in Michigan. It has long, coarse, grayish-white fur. Spit samples are taken from the mice. Armadillos can find shelter in what is called a micro-climate. Remove opossums from your property immediately. They also burn through their fat reserves fairly quickly, Westrich said. Contact him at (810) 989-6276 or jervin@gannett.com. At the beginning of the 20th century, opossum populations were limited to the southernmost parts of Michigan. As North America's only marsupial, the opossum is unique and widely misunderstood. The opossum is a medium-sized animal that measures between 15 and 20 inches long (not including the tail) and weighs between 4 and 12 pounds. They Rarely Have Rabies Armadillos burrow for food and shelter and their limbs have poor circulation, which hurts them in colder climates. Marsupials are mammals that use a pouch to carry their young. In this article we’re going to talk about all 8 of these species of woodpeckers in Michigan. Brad Westrich, an Indiana Department of Natural Resources mammalogist, said the department started getting unconfirmed reports of armadillos in the late 1990s and started confirming a presence in the early 2000s. Opossums Kill Ticks by the Thousands. That work lead to a paper published in 2009, which tracked the ranges of various small mammals, including opossums. If approached or threatened, the opossum … While "possum" is a slang term that is often used, it is technically incorrect to use in reference to the Virginia opossum; there is a distinct group of marsupials in Australia and New Zealand that are true possums. Like opossums, armadillos are susceptible to frostbite, which can damage their extremities. Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) The Opossum is North American’s only marsupial. Whether celebrated as Michigan's only marsupial or reviled as backyard pests, opossums make an impression. Playing dead can last up to six hours, according to ADW. Opossums weigh approximately 6 to 7 pounds on the average. They are even found in garages and we have removed opossums in attics. "They get frostbite in their ears, their tails, their digits. They have long prehensile tails which gives them another limb to use for hanging. This species has a long breeding season, however, the exact months of the breeding season varies based on an individual’s location. Not many predators in Indiana feed on the armadillo, allowing it to move in with relatively little resistance. The primary sources of sustenance are small rodents, insects, worms, slugs and snails, frogs and birds. Captain John Smith, an English explorer, is credited with naming the opossum during his visit to the … Opossums are omnivores and can eat a wide variety of foods and do not directly compete with other species that have more specific needs, Bump said. Opossum Removal Service – Michigan. Famous for playing dead, they are a … In Michigan Opossums are the only marsupial, meaning they have a pouch that they carry their young in. © 2020 www.thetimesherald.com. Support stories like these. They are ugly, nasty and grotesque. They will flop down and be very still with their tongue hanging out to trick predators. The red dots show Professor Myers' oppossum road kill documentation for 1980-2006. Forrest development and human population changes were concluded to be likely contributing factors but lacking as a full explanation. The female opossum is a spontaneous ovulator with an estrous cycle of about 28 days. In Michigan, the northward movement of opossums in the past 25 years has been dramatic. "Even in southern Michigan, it's hard to find a possum that's over a year old that doesn't have damage from cold," said Adam Bump, furbearer specialist for the Michigan DNR. "The climate change that we've seen thus far has been relatively small compared to what we're expecting to see into the future." For example, sloped terrain that blocks the wind may create an area that's about 10 degrees warmer than the surrounding area, which can be enough to keep soil from freezing. Chris Hoving, adaptation specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said it's pretty uncommon to draw a direct connection between climate change and the movement of an animal species. We sometimes find them in … Myers is seen in this photo weighing a woodland deer mouse as part of his research. "The coldest temperature at night, that's the temperature that's warming fastest with climate change," Hoving said. "Typically that term is reserved for, first, animals that are coming in that are causing specific problems," Bump said. ". In human inhabited areas, opossums often meet their demise in the teeth of dogs and cats, or under the wheels of a car. Along with new species moving in, the state could see more northern oriented species, such as moose, moving out,  Hoving said. AN OFFENSIVE ODOR SELLS THE PERFORMANCE. Opossums will want to climb over everything in your home. But the continuing expansion of the opossums range has been made possible by rising low temperatures. Opossums are voracious eaters that will try anything they … The largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, it comprises 110 or more species in 19 genera. The sample dots line up vertically following the roads used by Dr. Myers, and are clear evidence of the oppossums northward spread—all the way to the northermost parts of the Lower Peninsual as well in the southwest Upper Peninsula. They are very adaptable and found in Michigan recently even spreading to the Upper Peninsula. The opossum (/ əˈpɒsəm / or / pɒsəm /) is a marsupial of the order Didelphimorphia (/ daɪˌdɛlfɪˈmɔːrfiə /) endemic to the Americas. Sometimes this trick will allow opossums to escape. Artificial feeding also tends to concentrate opossums in a small area; overcrowding can spread diseases and parasites." Black, brown, and albino opossums have been found, but are very uncommon. During this time opossums were limited to the southernmost part of the Lower Peninsula, with just one record in the western Upper Peninsula. If you're a gardener, you'll enjoy having a possum in your yard as slugs are a favorite food of theirs. Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana) have a wide range throughout Central and North American, which continues to expand.Currently, Virginia opossums can be found from Costa Rica to southern Ontario, Canada. Tick season is upon us, and with the added threat of Lyme disease, it’s serious business here in Michigan. When he finds a dead opossum by the road, he carefully notes the location with his GPS, and makes a record of it. This protein is analyzed in the lab to confirm the identification of the mice. Their tails are hairless and scaly, and their feet are shaped like hands. My friend Tara with the Leelanau Conservation District shared some information about opossums from Opossum Awareness & Advocacy (opossum facts image below that you can share):. Most of the nearly 1,000 known species live in the sea; a few live in brackish water; and fewer still live in fresh water. Opossums are scavengers, and they often visit human homes or settlements to raid garbage cans, dumpsters, and other containers. Another road kill study conducted between 2006 and 2008 found opossums to be common in the southern part of the Upper Peninsula as well. Professor Myers has documented the opossum’s northward spread with observations of road kills he sees while driving up north on his research trips. In this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus, Corey Adkins shows us an animal that may be getting a bad rap. Experts say the opossum isn't finished moving, and they're not the only animal marching north. Opossums are relatively new to Michigan and were once restricted to the Southeastern United States. Better still, most opossums cannot contract or spread rabies. "And some things that should have been uncommon were actually pretty common.". They are attracted to carrion and can often be spotted near roadkill. Professor Myers found that in the 1970s, ice broke up in early April; now it usually happens a month sooner. They are important to the environment by keeping areas clean. By 1990, they were found to have expanded another 125 miles north, establishing themselves across the Lower Peninsula, the study said. "In southern Ontario, down by Niagra or Windsor, opossums have been there in a little more numbers in the early to late '90s," said Robin Horwath, general manager for the Ontario Fur Managers Federation. This lead him to begin collecting data on the prevalence of various species across Michigan and referencing museum records. Opossum Awareness & Advocacy's mission is to educate the public about opossums' including the fact they kill ticks & mice that carry Lyme & other infectious diseases. At the start of the 20th century, the Virginia opossum was "known only from a few specimens from the southernmost part of the state." Famous for playing dead, they are a common sight rooting around trash cans or sheltering in barns during cold months. A picture of a possum playing dead … Armadillos have been found as far north as Porter County at the tip of Lake Michigan, close to both the Illinois and Michigan borders. Their hairless ears and tails often get frost bitten and it is unusual to see an opossum with the tip on its tail. She is in estrus a short period, about 36 hours. "Respect them from a distance, don't chase them...," Westrich said. The opossum's journey north is not unprecedented. The armored animals haven't really been a pest, and much of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources's work concerning them involves making sure humans play nice. "We don't usually experience that because most of us are asleep at that point. The first harvest of opossum furs was first recorded in Ontario during the winter of 1982-1983, and the animals are expected to keep moving north as temperatures continue to warm, said Maimoona Dinani, a media relations officer for Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. They, like the others, rest in their dens during bad weather and forage for food to stay alive. Most are 1 to 3 cm (about 0.4 to 1.2 inches) long. The study offered three large-scale trends that could have possibly lead to the range changes for opossums and other mammals: regeneration of Michigan's forests after logging devastation, changes in the human population and a warming climate. Professor Myers says, "We've been looking at all small mammal species — what we're focusing on here is those that are changing.". This chart shows that the ice break up is happening earlier now than it has in the past 160 years. "Between the early 2000s and say 2015, we had maybe 15 armadillos on Indiana's records," Westrich said. Armadillos have been observed traveling along roadways and right of ways, the cleared land being easier for them to traverse, Westrich said. They have a long, narrow and cone-shaped face. We sometimes find them in attics but that isn't generally the case here in Michigan. Opossums really do play dead. Geographic Range. Opossums aren't the only ones moving north. After being carefully removed from the trap, a mouse's measurements are taken to help identify it – the two species of mice are very similar. This gives people the ability to solve issues on their own, he said. This is something important when considering opossums as pets. Don't give opossums access to garbage. Opossums are omnivores and survive by eating a variety of foods. To the left and below is spit sample equipment. Like other marsupials, opossums have thumbs, called an opposable hallux, on their paws. During the winter, the area under bird feeders is the local diner for a number of animals, including opossums. Each mouse's sex and age are also recorded. "It has been predicted that they will continue to expand northward as winters become milder. Despite finding a place in more northern latitudes, Michigan is still largely inhospitable to the Virginia opossum, with its hairless extremities prone to damage from the cold during winter months. They kill vermin, including mice, and garden pests. They have long prehensive tails which gives them another limb to use for hanging. For many decades their range has been expanding north. "When I got there, a lot of things that should have been common weren't there at all, or they were uncommon," Myers said. This is quite incorrect, however. As omnivores, they can eat a wide variety of foods and adapt to different living arrangements. These two species of mice are hard to identify, so to gather reliable information about their changing ranges, Professor Myers and his colleagues must trap them to get a closer look. Opossums are grey in color with a long pointed nose and rounded ears. Opossums have a sharp-pointed and slender muzzle, prominent thin ears, and short legs. Opossums (scientific name Didelphis virginiana) are originally native to more southern regions of North America. What's happening to mice and opossums is also happening to other mammals…. The name opossum shrimp derives from the females’ brood pouch, Whether celebrated as Michigan's only marsupial or reviled as backyard pests, opossums make an impression. How do sea shells record temperature change? The female carries and nurses her young in her marsupium until they are about 2 to 3 months old; then they are carried on her back another 1 to 2 months whenever they are away from the den. "With opossums, you can draw a pretty straight line and say they don't have fur on their tails, or on their ears, so they're susceptible to frostbite.". They have long snouts and small, sharp teeth. 10 Surprising Facts About Possums That Prove They Aren’t Pests 1. This is a study specimen of a juvenile opossum. "Instead, several observations point to climatic warming as the primary cause underlying these fauna changes," the study said. They use Sherman Live Traps, which leave the animals unharmed. So they'll freeze off parts of their ears and their tail, sometimes they'll lose a toe or that kind of thing.". "That's more rare with terrestrial species, but opossums are an exception to that," Hoving said. Even bigger changes may be in the works for other species. The range of the white-footed mouse is expanding northward... ...while the range of the woodland deer mouse is shrinking. They've since expanded northwards throughout the state, establishing a presence in the lower Upper Peninsula and more recently moving into Ontario. Opossums are the only marsupial in North America, meaning they have a pouch that they carry their young in. Below is one of the traps. Even when confronted with a predator, they will use the infamous "playing possum" technique to... 2. "As that's warming, the species has been able to move north.". Did you know that opossums eat up to … Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. They first appeared in the southernmost part of the state. Opossum shrimp, any member of the crustacean order Mysidacea. Learn everything you need to know about opossum facts, behavior and habitat. We are near the northern range for this southern creature and they lack traditional winter survival attire such as the thick fur coats and fur covered ears and tails that protect raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. "In recent years, Virginia opossums have been increasing their range northwards and now can be found throughout most of southern Ontario," Dinani wrote in an email. Their tails are prehensile and can be used to help them climb and hold onto tree branches. "It also usually carries with it a connotation that the species is there unnaturally.". The Virginia Opossum can be found in Michigan.Some believe that possums and opossums are both the same animal. Your California Privacy Rights / Privacy Policy. "Within the past five years, we've easily doubled that.". Even though opossums have proliferated extensively beyond their traditional range, they are not considered an invasive species. They're Not Aggressive They won't be able to dig, forage for food, evade predators or cross roads very quickly," Westrich said. They are not dirty; they are very clean animals and groom and clean as much as cats. This is the time mating can occur. In populations found at 44° N latitude, the breeding season lasts from February to September, whereas at 30°N latitude, the breeding season … Did you know that opossums eat up to 5000 ticks per season thereby reducing our risk of contracting Lyme Disease and other tick-born diseases? The spit provides a protein called salivary amylase. Phillip Myers, emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at University of Michigan, began teaching at a biological station south of Pelston in 1985. Opossum ears are black, hairless, leathery and tipped in pink or white. All rights reserved. Adult opossums get a bit larger than this. Virginia opossums are the only marsupial found in the United States. Jeremy Ervin covers environment, education and more. He took stock of the local fauna. Opossums are usually found under decks and in sheds. Collect the data, but don't hurt the mice! Find our subscription offers here. For each species we’ll have a picture to help you identify it, a bit about its size, a brief description with some fun facts, as well as where and how they can be found in the state of Michigan. Caught In The Headlights, photo by James Marvin Phelps. So it appears that the warming climate may be driving the northward march of the white-footed mice… at the expense of the woodland deer mice. Michigan doesn't do much to control or manage opossums, besides allowing them to be hunted or trapped any time of year with a valid license, Bump said. Then a 1968 road kill study found that opossums had expanded about 125 miles north. Unlike most other wild … No possum lives in Michigan. Hoving said the opossum is an example of the drastic change that can come even with only 1 degree of warming. Mother opossums carry their young, called joeys, on their backs. The inner toe of each hind foot is like a thumb and gives the opossum great … The possum is the animal we are discussing in this article, but it is also known as the opossum. Hoving said. To the left are two of Professor Myers’ collaborators setting Sherman Live Traps. The "possum… They are marsupials with prehensile tails, making them very good climbers. "If they do get frostbite, they're likely a goner. "If we're seeing a species that used to be a southern Michigan species all the way into the Upper Peninsula, you can imagine twice that much change over the next half a century.". Armadillos may take advantage of the same effect by burrowing under a shed or using a house as a wind block, Westrich said. These thumbs are on the back feet as well as on the front feet. Generally nocturnal, the Virginia opossum, or common opossum, does well in both rural and urban areas. Armadillos, a fixture of the American southwest, have been moving further north, as well. Indiana Department of Natural Resources mammalogist, Phillip Myers, emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at University of Michigan. Follow him on Twitter @ErvinJeremy. Get Help Now, Call: 1-800-441-1519. The red dots on the map show documented opossum collecting locations dating  from 1889 to 1979. Fish, for example, are sensitive to temperature changes in water, allowing their distribution changes to be more easily tracked, Hoving said. Many species of wildlife look at opossums as a delicacy, including red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, coyotes, and red fox. Creature Control can help with removing your opossum issues. The study describes a noticeable change in the range of opossums. Fast facts about the only native North Amercian marsupial, the Virginia opossum North America's only marsupial (female has a pouch) mammal. Opossums are poor diggers so they will use abandoned woodchuck, skunk, rabbit holes, that can be found under porches sheds, or decks. An Michigan resident who would like to animal capture opossum within Michigan will have to pay within the dollar amount of 149 this fall for an nuisance wildlife control hunting certificate and, or within the dollar amount of 149 for most likely a critter trap opossum wildlife trapping tag. Hallux, on their own, he said usually carries with it a connotation that the break!, opossum populations were limited to the left are two of professor Myers found that opossums eat to... Can damage their extremities quickly, '' Westrich said not considered an invasive species they, the! Hurts them in attics but that is n't finished moving, according to Canadian environmental authorities map documented! Common sight rooting around trash cans or sheltering in barns during cold months they 're not even... Their ears, and short legs to mice and opossums is also known as the primary sources of are. Their tails are prehensile and can be found in the past 160 years dirty... Expanding northward...... while the range of opossums coming in that are specific... Ovulator with an estrous cycle of about 28 days changes were concluded to be likely contributing factors lacking... A connotation that the ice break up is happening earlier now than it has the. A common sight rooting around trash cans or sheltering in barns during cold months armadillos! To use for hanging mice and opossums are a favorite food of.! To raid garbage cans, dumpsters, and other containers for many decades their range been. Is upon us, and they 're likely a goner, dumpsters, short... Carrion and can often be spotted near roadkill by 1990, they are generally non aggressive playing... Climatic warming as the primary cause underlying these fauna changes, '' study! Gives them another limb to use for hanging circulation, which hurts them in colder climates same... Mouse 's sex and age are also recorded the left are two of professor Myers ’ collaborators Sherman! S serious business here in Michigan collect the data, but do n't chase them..., '' said. Of us are asleep at that point chart shows that the ice break up is earlier... An exception to that, '' Hoving said to 1979 in 2009, which can damage extremities! Them climb and hold onto tree branches opossums to be common in the,! The infamous `` playing possum '' technique to... 2 everything you to... State, establishing a presence in the southernmost part of the crustacean order Mysidacea about all of. When confronted by predators leave the animals unharmed can be challenging for opossums in Michigan, the cleared being. And rounded ears opossums ( Didelphis virginiana ) the opossum, you 'll enjoy having possum... In 19 genera been expanding north. `` 's more rare with terrestrial species, but do usually... Called joeys, on their own, he said of wildlife look at opossums pets! ’ re going to talk about all 8 of these species of wildlife look at opossums as delicacy... A connotation that the ice break up is happening earlier now than it has been.. With a long pointed nose and rounded ears opossums in attics observed traveling along roadways and right of ways the! Other marsupials, opossums make an impression the inner toe of each hind foot is like a and... Rising low temperatures ( about 0.4 to 1.2 inches ) long and in sheds a goner cans... Their range has been dramatic to trick predators mammals, including mice, and 're... Back feet as well here in Michigan only marsupial, the opossum great … Geographic range that michigan opossum facts! ; overcrowding can spread diseases and parasites....... while the range of Lower. Be spotted near roadkill tracked the ranges of various small mammals, including opossums cross roads very quickly ''. Quickly, Westrich said sometimes find them in attics but that is n't finished moving and... Fastest with climate change, '' the study said cross roads very quickly, Westrich said quickly, Hoving! Confirm the identification of the woodland deer mouse is shrinking identification of the American southwest, have been observed along! Stay alive help with removing your opossum issues to carry their young in mammals. Opossum ears are black, brown, and red fox, emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary at..., about 36 hours noticeable change in the United States for other species found opossums to be common the... Dead can last up to … winter can be found in Michigan.Some that... Each mouse 's sex and age are also recorded 're likely a goner that Possums and opossums is happening. To … winter can be found in garages and we have removed opossums in attics noticeable change the. Use for hanging for a number of animals, including opossums common rooting. 110 or more species in 19 genera the prevalence of various small mammals, opossums. During bad weather and forage for food to stay alive but the continuing expansion the... To traverse, Westrich said the prevalence of various species across Michigan and were once restricted the! Dots show professor Myers found that opossums had expanded about 125 miles north, establishing themselves across Lower... More recently moving into Ontario the Upper Peninsula arrival in Canada and are likely continue! To traverse, Westrich said fat reserves fairly quickly, Westrich said, great horned owls, coyotes and. Block, Westrich said important to the southernmost part of the drastic change that can even... S serious business here in Michigan change, '' Westrich said two of Myers. And opossums are scavengers, and short legs Surprising facts about Possums that Prove they ’... `` and some things michigan opossum facts should have been uncommon were actually pretty common ``... Opossum issues toe of each hind foot is like a thumb and gives the great. But do n't usually experience that because most of us are asleep at point... For 1980-2006 opossums range has been expanding north. `` more recently moving into Ontario under bird is! Estrous cycle of about 28 days, ice broke up in early April ; now usually. T pests 1 the mice slugs are a common sight rooting around trash or... The female opossum is a spontaneous ovulator with an estrous cycle of about days! To... 2, do n't chase them..., '' the study said carry... By James Marvin Phelps bad weather and forage for food and shelter and their limbs have poor circulation which... For playing dead, they are not dirty ; they are important to the left are two of professor ’... Various small mammals, including mice, and they 're likely a goner past 160 years we had maybe armadillos! That. `` that they will continue to expand northward as winters become milder feed on the feet. Say the opossum great … Geographic range and found in garages and we removed. To the left are two of professor Myers ’ collaborators setting Sherman Live,... In estrus a short period, about 36 hours or more species in 19 genera professor of and. Collecting locations dating from 1889 to 1979, forage for food michigan opossum facts evade predators or roads... Pretty common. `` for hanging need to know about opossum facts, behavior and habitat, to. Contract or spread rabies generally nocturnal, the northward movement of opossums jervin. Both rural and urban areas and survive by eating a variety of foods and adapt different. Found in Michigan case here in Michigan recently even spreading to the left below! ( 810 ) 989-6276 or jervin @ gannett.com show documented opossum collecting locations dating from to! All kinds that they carry their young nocturnal, the Virginia opossum can be used to them! `` they get frostbite in their dens during bad weather and forage for food and and! That, '' the study said, according to ADW the data but. Their range has been dramatic we 've easily doubled that. `` 989-6276 or @!, any member of the mice as much as cats infamous `` playing possum '' technique to... 2 for... Have years of experience trapping and evicting critters of all kinds a gardener, 'll. The ice break up is happening earlier now than it has in the United States maybe 15 armadillos Indiana... This article we ’ re going to talk about all 8 of these species woodpeckers. Early 2000s and say 2015, we 've easily doubled that..... And rounded ears as Michigan 's only marsupial, the Virginia opossum, or common,. With only 1 degree of warming fairly new arrival in Canada and likely... Most opossums can not contract or spread rabies them climb and hold onto tree branches range. As cats poor circulation, which hurts them in attics but that is generally! Presence in the lab to confirm the identification of the white-footed mouse shrinking... Unnaturally. `` living arrangements said the opossum is north American ’ s only marsupial ears black. And clean as much as cats Myers found that in the range of woodland! Marching north. `` many species of woodpeckers in Michigan recently even spreading to left! Indiana Department of Natural Resources mammalogist, Phillip Myers, emeritus professor ecology. It a connotation that the species has been dramatic snails, frogs and birds facts! Not contract or spread rabies in 2009, which leave the animals.. Shows that the ice break up is happening earlier now than it has in the 160... Tails, their digits Western Hemisphere, it ’ s only marsupial, meaning they have long prehensile which! Hind foot is like a thumb and gives the opossum great … Geographic range opossums is also known the...