Opossum Defense Mechanisms

Defense
Mechanism
Description Picture
“Playing ‘possum”

The opossum has an involuntary comatose-like state induced by extreme fear. Predators find “the kill” part of the stimulus to eat; therefore, an inert opossum does nothing to excite their appetite, and they will leave it alone. Somehow the opossum’s body knows when the danger has passed, and the opossum “comes to” again. Nature’s mystery!

Playing Possum

Drooling

 

An opossum will work its jaw until excessive drool forms and it is actually blowing bubbles out of its nose! Heavy drooling causes a predator to think the opossum is sick and consequently unappetizing.

This opossum is not pregnant. She is carrying 9 infants in her pouch.

Alligator-mouth

 

Even before opossums have teeth, they will gape their mouth in a threatening manner. (The babies do not realize that this is only impressive when they finally have teeth!) This act alone will keep many predators (including humans) at bay.

alligator_mouth.jpeg (92391 bytes)

Anal gland fluid

 

Fear can cause release of a greenish-colored anal fluid. Opossums cannot “spray”, and the only way this unpleasant-smelling body fluid can come in contact with you is if your clothes brush the anal area. It washes off easily.  
Last modified: February 19, 2024 @ 5:28 pm