Opossum vs Possum – When to Choose Which One and Why?

The marsupial is a type of animal that belongs to possums and opossums. But one common mistake that people do is that they think these animals are the same. Well, they are not. Even if we are clearing these things, you might still be confused first, with the spelling, and then their looks are slightly similar. So today, we will go through the differences they have with the simple definitions of Opossum vs. Possum.

opossum vs possum

How To Avoid The Opossum Vs Possum Error

Despite the fact that they are the same creature, there are different names for opossum and possum. Both names are used for the same marsupial mammal, but the differences between the two words are numerous. In fact, there are more than 100 different species of marsupials that are called opossums. If you want to avoid this confusion, you should know how to tell the difference between the two.

The opossum is a marsupial that is found in North and South America, as well as Central America and Australia. It is a relatively common animal in North America, but it is more rare in South America. In the United States, opossums can be found in both rural and urban settings.

Opossums are nocturnal, meaning they do not spend much time in the daytime. They are also known for scavenging, which means they eat a variety of things. They also like to climb. They prefer rotting plant material for their food. In some cases, opossums may secrete a foul-smelling liquid from their anal glands.

Opossums have pointed, sharp teeth. They have black feet and ears, and a bushy tail. They are also known for having a pouch that holds babies. Opossums are the ultimate opportunists. They can eat everything. They may even bite in some cases. They are also highly adaptable. In North America, opossums are not as abundant as raccoons. They can easily move from a rural setting to an urban one.

If you have a pet, you should monitor your pet for encounters with opossums. These animals can be aggressive, so make sure your pet is always monitored. They can also damage your property. They may get in through a pet door or a hole in the ground. In order to prevent an opossum infestation, you may want to consider a possum control plan. The same strategies that are used to control skunks can also be used to keep opossums at bay.

In order to identify an opossum, you can listen to its noises. When a possum is threatened, it may begin to hiss. It may also act as if it is dead. This defensive strategy is instinctual. In addition, opossums will sometimes bite or bar their teeth in response to being threatened.

If you suspect that an opossum is in your home, it is a good idea to look for any holes in the walls, windows, or ceiling. In order to avoid this problem, you may want to close any holes with an “L” footer. You may also want to remove any pet food that has been left out. You should also monitor your yard for signs of an opossum infestation. Often, the animal will leave a tracking patch in the yard. If you can find it, you can check to see if it has left.

If you see signs of a nesting area, you should try to get the opossum to leave the area. If it does not leave, you may want to consider using a decoy animal. Using a decoy animal is a good way to trick the animal into thinking it is in an area it shouldn’t be.

Opossum vs. Possum: Difference

An opossum is a type of marsupial but a native animal of America from Didelphimorphia. While Possum is a marsupial animal, native to Australasia. Possums have the scientific name of Phalangeriformes. However, possums are more often used these days. People interchangeably use these words just like bison and buffalo. To briefly define opossum vs. Possum:

  • Opossums- commonly identified with their white faces and sharp teeth. These are native marsupial animals in America.
  • Possums- have prehensile tails and are native marsupial animals to Australia and their neighbor countries.

When to Use Opossum

Most of the time, you can use opossum or opossums when you are referring to the Virginia opossum. These are the only species you can find in Canada and the USA.

Opossums are fierce creatures due to their sharp teeth, which is the main characteristic of Virginia opossum. Virginia opossums usually have white faces, black ears, and coarse gray. Somehow the same size with a domestic cat. Opossums don’t have prehensile tails like possums of Australia. However, they are comfortable on the ground and in the trees.

When to Use Possum

Possum is a Phalangeriformes. A kind of marsupial that can be found in Australia and other Oceanic countries. They are tree-dwelling animals and are nocturnal creatures. Possums have prehensile tails, but they also have varieties of possums that have brushtail and ringtail possums. Their tails act like their fifth limb. Through their tail characteristics, they can use it to grasp and hang from the branches of trees.

Spelling Mistakes with Opossum & Possum

In English, there are lots of words that begin with “opp.” Which writer became confused with the correct spelling of opossum. These errors might be:

  • Oppossum
  • Opposum
  • Oposum
  • Opussum

These mistakes are common and take away the meaning of the word. The correct spelling is O-P-O-S-S-U-M, opossum. And do not be confused when to call that marsupial animal opossum, and an Australian tree-dwelling animal, Possum.


When to use Possum vs Opossum?

Most of the time, you can use opossum or opossums when you are referring to the Virginia opossum. And an Australian tree-dwelling animal is called Possum.

Is Opossum a Rodent?

Opossum are not Rodent. They are marsupial. They use their pouch to carry their babies. They are the only mammals with pouches in the US & Canada.

Does Possum attack?

Just like other mammals, if you try to hurt a Possum or their babies, they will attack you for rescuing themselves.

Do Possum run fast?

Possums run at the speed of 3.5 miles/hour. They do not posses any skill to attack, but they have the skill to run away quickly from the attackers. Possums are good climbers and swimmers. They can climb fences and concrete walls.


Remember that an opossum is a marsupial that is endemic to America and belongs to the Didelphimorphia family. Possums are marsupial animals that are native to Australasia.

Even the names of animals are confusing. But properly knowing their characteristics will help you define which name you will call them. Opossum vs Possum is no doubt almost similar to each as well as their spelling.

While possums and opossums both fall under the general class of marsupial, they belong to different orders and there are variation possum and other widespread possum species like the Australasian marsupials, Tasmanian pygmy possum, Brushtail possums and Australian Possums. Opossums live in North and South America, while possums live in Australia and other countries.

The possum has a furry tail, while the opossum has a bare tail. Both possums and opossums have a flexible diet and they eat various green plants and animal matter scavenged from their surroundings. In North America, the animal is officially called an opossum is a white and gray marsupial of the order Didelphimorphia. 

Are there other terms, words, or phrases that confuse you about when to use or if properly used? Hope this article helped clear key difference in possum-opossum difference. Share us what are those, and maybe we can help you find the answers to differentiate them!

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