Possums, also known as opossums, have over 60 species with remarkable abilities to find food. But the Virginia opossum is the only marsupial found in the USA. What do possums eat? This guide discusses the diet and list of foods possums eat to survive. Furthermore, we’ll dive into the list of foods to avoid feeding possums and what baby possums eat, so stick around.
So, what does the possum diet consist of?
The opossum diet consists of animals and plants because they are omnivores. Furthermore, these creatures eat ticks, vegetables, dead animals, eggs, and fruits. While vegetables and fruits are the primary possum’s diet, they also consume birds, ticks, rodents, fungi, insects, and algae.
These creatures with poor eyesight are scavengers in animal matter with an excellent memory. Opossums can remember food sources and visit the location the next day for more.
Besides, they have a superb immune and digestive system and are even resistant to Lyme disease. While many carry rare cases, they cannot develop or transmit Lyme disease. Furthermore, they have a great sense of smell and hearing. As a result, opossums can prey on uncovered compost heaps, dirty containers, or smelly trash cans with a keen sense.
Possums enjoy eating fruits in the summer and flowers during winter. Rockmelons, watermelon grapes, bananas, berries, and grapes are ideal fruits for these creatures during the summer seasons.
Flowers, grains, and eggs are an excellent food for opossums in the winter seasons. Furthermore, these creatures feed on insects, snakes, and rodents in winter.
Besides, an opossum feeds on beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, snails, crickets, beetles, and other small animals in any season for survival.
List of foods possums eat
Insects, roaches, ants, fruits, dead animals, and plants are foods possums like to eat. These creatures can feed on small vertebrates, rattlesnakes, weeds, and even carrion. There are extensive collections of food possums eat, and we will list a few below:
Dead plants and weeds
Possum can feed on unsightly weeds and decaying plants if your home has a garden. Unfortunately, these creatures happily feed on decaying plants and weedy vegetation instead of healthy crops.
While plants and weeds are not the primary food sources, they contain beneficial nutrients for bone formation. In addition, the nutrients in dead weeds and plants improve the possum’s diet with high calcium.
Opossums maintain bone density and tooth growth with the calcium in plants and weeds. Furthermore, they feed on grasses, nuts, plant leaves, and bulbs in moist areas.
Ants, Insect, Roach, & Mice
These creatures with bright memories feed on tiny animals because of their diverse dietary eating pattern. For example, possums regularly feast on rats, mice, ants, insects, cockroaches, and other animals. A playing possum can attack with sharp claws and hide in an abandoned burrow. They play dead, making it difficult for small animals to play possum.
Opossums are nature’s pest control and can keep your garden free of household pests. Although these creatures do not go around looking for insects, rats, mice, or birds eggs until they desperately need food.
Furthermore, opossums also eat roaches and other pests with sharp teeth when they become aggressive. These animals specialize in killing and eating rats, squirrels, snails, cockroaches, slugs, etc.
Dead Animals or Carrion
If you drive long distances, you may encounter fresh roadkill with possums feeding on it. These creatures eat carrion and feast on dead and decaying animals in the wild or by the roadside.
While possums will eat anything to survive, they take advantage of the carcasses of animals killed. These creatures pick the bones of beneficial animals clean and even eat them for a balanced diet.
The opossum diet involves a high amount of calcium found in the skeletal remains of other animals. They even eat the bones of dead birds and small rodents like carrion, mice, and rats to survive.
These creatures are immune to snake venom, making rattlesnakes an ideal food source. The compounds in the possum’s blood neutralize the poison, explaining why they love eating small snakes. These compounds prevent the venom from damaging the possum blood tissues and the nervous system.
But opossums are vulnerable to elapid and giant snakes that feed on possum, reptiles, and mammals. While these animals do not hunt for rattlesnakes, they kill and eat when it is an easy catch.
Possums are known for ransacking trash bins and feeding on garbage when desperate for food. Smelly trash cans attract these creatures, and they’ll feed on any leftovers, soda, stale milk, etc.
The scent of food scraps inside your garbage cans attracts these scavengers, and they will find the smell. If the trash can has no food or edible substance, they make it messy. Possums are opportunistic feeders and will scatter your garbage for a free meal.
Dog or Cat Food
Possums feed any available meal and may steal your pet food. If your cat or dog food starts to disappear before the pet eats it, possums could be why. A northern brushtail possum can steal your pet’s canned meat, soft foods, and pellets without launching an attack.
A Virginia possum can feast on pet meals left outside homes, whether you live in modern or traditional settings. Furthermore, they consume human foods like cookies, bread, crackers, chips, etc.
List of foods to avoid when feeding possum
Human food, cow milk, and green potatoes can make possums sick and cause untimely death. Consuming onions, green potatoes, or naturally sourced vitamins are dangerous for these creatures. There are lists of foods to avoid when feeding possum, and we will dive into it below:
Opossum cannot survive on human food, affecting their body system. The food is unhealthy and leads to sickness.
Avoid feeding possum raw food, biscuits, chicken, baby cereals, eggs, or bread. Furthermore, do not feed possum cakes or cooked bones, affecting digestion.
Regular Cow Milk
One item never to feed possums is cow milk because of its properties and content. Cow milk contains lactose, a compound that causes diarrhea for these animals and may cause death. Lactose can also affect possum growth and effectiveness.
Almonds, Green Potatoes
Almonds are poisonous to opossum and do not feed them dairy products for longer life. Likewise, do not feed possums green potatoes and almonds as they are detrimental to their health.
Possums are vulnerable to various health issues when consuming a high amount of meat. Therefore, do not feed these creatures raw meat or food with high protein without restrictions. Uncooked meat can cause parasites in these creatures and lead to untimely death.
What do baby possums eat?
Possums, also known as opossums, remain in their mothers’ care at an infant stage. They drink milk for 90 days from their mother before emerging.
But baby opossum is not choosy and feeds on insects and an available diet after leaving their mother’s pouch. So while these creatures survive on cockroaches, frogs, slugs, and worms, snails remain their best diet.
Unlike mother opossum, baby possums consume plants, seeds, and nuts as an alternative to meat and milk. When starving, a baby possum feeds on table scraps, fruits, dog or cat food, and even dead animals in urban areas.
Frequently asked questions
Do possums eat vegetables?
Possums consume different vegetables from onion to peaches, tomatoes, beans, parsley, and lettuce. These creatures like to eat fresh vegetables and sweet things like winter squash, beets, carrots, etc.
Furthermore, some possum species eat fuchsias, eucalyptus leaves, and roses. In addition, they can eat ripe tomatoes, cucumber, and corn.
What do possums eat in the wild?
Possums feed on slugs, earthworms, insects, and snails for survival in the wild. However, a wild possum improves its diet with small rodents, primary food sources, and even dead wild animals.
While in desperate need of food, possums eat plants like wild fungi, grains, and fruits. In addition, these creatures consume moles, rats, mice, and voles in the wild.
Are possums picky eaters?
Possums are not picky with their food selection and can eat anything from grass to leftovers. These creatures can eat animals, bird eggs, chickens, and snakes to the bone and even consume plants.
In addition, they hunt rats, cockroaches, insects, birds and scatter your garbage area for leftover food.
Consider feeding opossums the proper diet now that you know the eating habits and schedule. Animals, snow beard, heaths, insects, fruits, and plants are food that possums like to eat. In addition, captive possums love insects rich in protein.
Any opossum can eat bird eggs, grains, flowers, watermelon grapes, and even compost piles for survival. But avoid feeding them raw meat or cow milk as it can lead to sickness and untimely death.
Also, opossums can make it messy if you have dead weeds, plants, or a smelly trash can in your garden. Finally, the possum provides natural pest control but can be a nuisance in moist areas.