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The average opossum can be just as big as a house cat, which is much larger than most people think they are. In fact, many of the wild animals you encounter in your home are bigger than you’d think, and as you can probably imagine, this can give you quite the shock f you weren’t expecting it.
Most opossums grow to about 15 - 20 inches in length, and if you were to stick them on the scales, they’d weigh in between 10 and 15 pounds. The age of the animal will obviously dictate how large it is, but how easily it finds food will also have a big role to play. An opossum that has managed to live undetected in a human attic or outbuilding, for example, could easily have access to wide variety of foods. The more it eats, the bigger it will get. It has been noted that urban opossums will generally grow to a larger size than their “wild” cousins, and this is because cleaning up after humans can prove very profitable when you’re a scavenger.
What makes life easier for the opossum is that it will change its diet to match whatever it can find close by. They really are the kind of animal to eat anything and everything, and as well as having a good old rummage through your trash can, these critters will also eat any pet food that you leave out, leftovers stuck to the BBQ, seeds and nuts in bird feeders, flower / plant leaves (destroying your garden), berries and other fruits, insects (which will be in plentiful supplies if you have a garden), and also other small animals too. Opossums will eat small snakes if they get the opportunity to. They have a wonderful, natural poison control system going on. They are generally immune to the venom produced by cottonmouths, rattlesnakes and also other pit vipers too.
Opossums are actually considered as nature’s very own cleaners. They don’t just eat the flesh of prey victims, they also eat the bones too. Their little bodies require lots of calcium, and they can get this from the bones that they eat. If there were dead carcasses anywhere, the opossums would be the creatures to come and eat them, essentially cleaning them away on our behalf.
Wherever the food is, that’s where you’ll find the opossum.
Another reason why opossums get bigger and survive longer in human-inhabited areas, is because of the lack of predators. There are fewer predators in these urban spaces, and the ones that are present are all trying to hide from humans too. Owls, cats, dogs, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, humans, and even cars are well known killers of this cat-sized creature, and it is believed that most of them will only survive to a maximum of four years old. The majority of them won’t even make it that far.
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does opossum removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of opossums - my main opossum removal info guide.
Example opossum trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Opossum job blog - learn from great examples of opossum jobs I've done.