Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Opossum, any individual of the Marsupial renus Didelphys, with twenty-three species, peculiar to America. There are five digits on each limb; the great toe is .opposable, and the tail generally long, in part naked, and prehensile. The pouch is jenerally absent, rarely complete, and sometimes reduced to two folds of the skin which cover the teats. The largest species is about the size of a rig cat, the smallest very little larger than a mouse. They are nocturnal and arboreal in habit, and feed in small reptiles, birds, birds' eggs, and insects. Che typical species (D. marsupialis), which is also he largest, has the pouch complete. The colour is lirty-white, and there is a brownish circle round iach eye. It has a wide range in America, and in he central and southern parts is called the Crabiating Opossum, and has been described (wrongly) is a distinct species. The expression "to play possum," meaning "to dissemble," derives its force rom the fact that the opossum, when .closely pressed, throws itself on its back and feigns death. In pouchless forms, like the Woolly Opossum (D. lanigera). the young are generally carried on the back of the mother, as they are sometimes in other species. With the opossums the genus Chironectes (with a single species, C. palmatus, the Yapock, ranging from Guatemala to the south of Brazil), makes up the family Didelphyida?. The Yapock, about the size of a rat, is grey marked with brown, has the feet webbed, and is aquatic in habit.