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

One of the first things to do if you have opossums in your yard is to remove any food sources that they may have found in your yard. These can include pet food, rotting fruit, and trash cans. You can also block off areas where opossums might find entry ways to your property. Also, avoid trimming trees that may provide an escape route, such as those that touch your house.

Although opossums are a common pest in our yards, they can actually benefit us humans by eating pest insects. They also eat fallen food, so they can help keep your yard clean. If you have a backyard with piles of rotting leaves, you might have a problem attracting them.

Before you attempt to trap an opossum, be sure to check local laws regarding trapping animals. Most states and cities have specific regulations concerning opossum trapping. It is important to follow these rules because failing to comply could be construed as animal abuse, which is a felony in all 50 states.

While opossum is the preferred spelling in North America, possum is still used in some places. For example, possum is spelled opossum in Australia. The Merriam-Webster dictionary acknowledges that the two terms refer to the same species. In informal writing, the difference may not be very significant, but it is still good to keep your audience in mind.

Another way to keep possums out of your yard is to use repellents. Garlic is highly repellent to opossums. Crushed garlic cloves can be scattered around the yard to discourage them. You can also put a mix of minced garlic and water in a spray bottle and spray the area where the opossums are active.

A possum is a marsupial found in North and South America. They have gray to white fur, pointed faces, and sharp teeth. They are a friendly animal, but are easy targets for fur poaching. If you have an opossum in your yard, don’t get too excited about it. If you’re concerned that you’ll accidentally kill it, don’t. A possum can be a nuisance when it refuses to leave.

To catch an opossum, you must make sure the trap is properly set, and make sure you release the opossum at dusk. It’s important to follow the guidelines and safety instructions given by the state. Most states have additional laws that require you to fill the trap with water. It is a good idea to practice setting the trap before you attempt to catch it.

One way to prevent an opossum from getting too close is to place a tall trash can at an angle to something it can climb on. This is particularly helpful if you have a pet – opossums like to eat chicken and eggs, so you should watch out for them.

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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