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Virginia Opossum Tracks

Virginia Opossums have extended their range far enough north that even in parts of northern New England they are present and remain active year-round.  Opossum tracks in the snow provide an opportunity to observe the unusual toe structure of these marsupials. 

Opossums have five toes on all four feet.  The toes on their front feet can spread wide apart, often resulting in a star-shaped track.  The inside toe of their hind foot, or “thumb,” is opposable, has no nail, and often points in the opposite direction of the other four toes. (Thanks to Connie Day for opossum track photo op.)

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11 responses

  1. Kathy

    Possums spread a very dangerous disease to horses. A friend in PA had to put a horse down because of it and brought in no others because she feared that it would endanger them as well.

    March 1, 2021 at 8:50 am

    • What disease is this and how common is it?

      March 1, 2021 at 9:29 am

      • Kathy

        EPM is the name. You can google it at this link

        It is spreading but I am not sure how common it is but it caused the death of my friend’s horse. It is a parasite spread by the possum’ stool so if it is in your pasture, as it was hers, it is a problem. The possum can get it from other sources. It’s worth the read.

        March 1, 2021 at 10:02 am

  2. Kathy

    I would like to let you know. I will check with my friend and post what I find out.

    March 1, 2021 at 9:40 am

  3. There is something about possums that has always felt a bit creepy to me – I think this may date back to when I was much younger, visiting family in Connecticut many years ago, and watched one in their back yard, creeping around in the dark and looking quite ghostly. But they are remarkable creatures, with such unique adaptations among mammals in our part of the wild world. Thanks for this post, and the photo of those beautiful tracks (along with those creepy-looking paws!)

    March 1, 2021 at 10:01 am

  4. Gaylee Amend

    Thanks for the clear photos of possum tracks AND their feet. But the poor little things don’t seem to have an undercoat or much weather protection for their ears and tails. The one I had on my deck several (hard)winters ago had obvious frostbite on the ears and tail. They take big risks coming this far north, but as climate changes we may see more of these tick eaters.

    March 1, 2021 at 10:11 am

  5. Alice

    They are such good Moms, carrying their young ones around. Their eye-sight is very poor, so it’s so sad to see them dead on the road. As with many animals, there are pros & cons.

    March 1, 2021 at 10:40 am

  6. In defense of this poor benighted creature, it is said to kill nearly 95% of ticks that crosses its path. It is estimated that a single opossum is capable of eating an estimated 5,000 ticks every season!

    March 1, 2021 at 1:24 pm

  7. Yes, I’m so sorry I forgot to mention the possum’s remarkable consumption of ticks! When I first learned this, it won my heart over completely, despite the “creepy” aspects of their appearance. I would gladly have a possum family take of residence in my back yard. And they are, indeed, such wonderful mothers!

    March 1, 2021 at 3:29 pm

  8. I’ve heard they are gentle and affectionate as pets if you ever rescue one that is not releasable. Lots of youtube videos and informative websites. They have sharp teeth and could bite but seldom do, using the open mouth and hiss as a threat instead. They are thorough groomers and clean, generally, and can easily be trained to a litter box. They almost never get rabies as their body temperature is too low. They are travelers and apt to move every several days. In our climate this far north, they can really use a protected, warm enough place given their naked vulnerable feet, tail and ears, so they may seek shelter under porches and even in basements if there is access. Had a friend who got The Basement Surprise!

    March 3, 2021 at 11:41 am

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