Both male and female opossums will build an elaborate nest, even though they only spend 2-3 days in a den site before they move on. Tightly curling their tail like a napkin ring, they gather twigs, leaves and even discarded plastic bags and clothing items with their mouth and pass the items through their front legs and pack them into their curled tail for transport. The tail doesn’t make the most secure method of transport and you will frequently find parts of their “dropped load” on the way to their nest site.
The materials are chosen for their insulation and privacy properties. They will pack themselves into their den site and drag material in after themselves to seal the doorway. Crackling leaves on the perimeter can also warn the sound day-sleeper opossum of intruders nearby and cause them to wake. Normal daytime sounds of gardening equipment, children playing, dogs barking, air conditioning units cycling on and off won’t bother them.
Observe this trail cam footage of an opossum gathering leaves. Note the tightly curled tail. If you see an opossum with a tightly curled tail, it is is nest building mode.
Even orphan baby opossums, before they are even ready to be on their own, will display nest building activity as shown above