michigan opossum facts

michigan opossum facts

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Remove opossums from your property immediately. Another road kill study conducted between 2006 and 2008 found opossums to be common in the southern part of the Upper Peninsula as well. Below is one of the traps. Creature Control can help with removing your opossum issues. We are near the northern range for this southern creature and they lack traditional winter survival attire such as the thick fur coats and fur covered ears and tails that protect raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. Opossums are a fairly new arrival in Canada and are likely to continue moving, according to Canadian environmental authorities. They have long prehensive tails which gives them another limb to use for hanging. Collect the data, but don't hurt the mice! They have a long, narrow and cone-shaped face. In Michigan, the northward movement of opossums in the past 25 years has been dramatic. "As that's warming, the species has been able to move north.". Support stories like these. The study offered three large-scale trends that could have possibly lead to the range changes for opossums and other mammals: regeneration of Michigan's forests after logging devastation, changes in the human population and a warming climate. Your California Privacy Rights / Privacy Policy. Opossums are relatively new to Michigan and were once restricted to the Southeastern United States. They will flop down and be very still with their tongue hanging out to trick predators. In human inhabited areas, opossums often meet their demise in the teeth of dogs and cats, or under the wheels of a car. Opossums are poor diggers so they will use abandoned woodchuck, skunk, rabbit holes, that can be found under porches sheds, or decks. "If they do get frostbite, they're likely a goner. They Rarely Have Rabies "Within the past five years, we've easily doubled that.". The red dots on the map show documented opossum collecting locations dating  from 1889 to 1979. "Even in southern Michigan, it's hard to find a possum that's over a year old that doesn't have damage from cold," said Adam Bump, furbearer specialist for the Michigan DNR. Opossums aren't the only ones moving north. Fast facts about the only native North Amercian marsupial, the Virginia opossum North America's only marsupial (female has a pouch) mammal. We sometimes find them in … Playing dead can last up to six hours, according to ADW. The opossum (/ əˈpɒsəm / or / pɒsəm /) is a marsupial of the order Didelphimorphia (/ daɪˌdɛlfɪˈmɔːrfiə /) endemic to the Americas. Our expert wildlife technicians have years of experience trapping and evicting critters of all kinds. A picture of a possum playing dead … Opossums are voracious eaters that will try anything they … Like other marsupials, opossums have thumbs, called an opposable hallux, on their paws. Geographic Range. In populations found at 44° N latitude, the breeding season lasts from February to September, whereas at 30°N latitude, the breeding season … So they'll freeze off parts of their ears and their tail, sometimes they'll lose a toe or that kind of thing.". Fish, for example, are sensitive to temperature changes in water, allowing their distribution changes to be more easily tracked, Hoving said. While "possum" is a slang term that is often used, it is technically incorrect to use in reference to the Virginia opossum; there is a distinct group of marsupials in Australia and New Zealand that are true possums. She is in estrus a short period, about 36 hours. Opossums are the only marsupial in North America, meaning they have a pouch that they carry their young in. They have long prehensile tails which gives them another limb to use for hanging. Jeremy Ervin covers environment, education and more. The range of the white-footed mouse is expanding northward... ...while the range of the woodland deer mouse is shrinking. All rights reserved. Despite finding a place in more northern latitudes, Michigan is still largely inhospitable to the Virginia opossum, with its hairless extremities prone to damage from the cold during winter months. No possum lives in Michigan. Opossums weigh approximately 6 to 7 pounds on the average. They are even found in garages and we have removed opossums in attics. Black, brown, and albino opossums have been found, but are very uncommon. Their tails are hairless and scaly, and their feet are shaped like hands. Armadillos burrow for food and shelter and their limbs have poor circulation, which hurts them in colder climates. They won't be able to dig, forage for food, evade predators or cross roads very quickly," Westrich said. Then a 1968 road kill study found that opossums had expanded about 125 miles north. If you're a gardener, you'll enjoy having a possum in your yard as slugs are a favorite food of theirs. Learn everything you need to know about opossum facts, behavior and habitat. The "possum… Most are 1 to 3 cm (about 0.4 to 1.2 inches) long. During the winter, the area under bird feeders is the local diner for a number of animals, including opossums. The Virginia Opossum can be found in Michigan.Some believe that possums and opossums are both the same animal. Hoving said. "Instead, several observations point to climatic warming as the primary cause underlying these fauna changes," the study said. Adult opossums get a bit larger than this. For example, sloped terrain that blocks the wind may create an area that's about 10 degrees warmer than the surrounding area, which can be enough to keep soil from freezing. They are attracted to carrion and can often be spotted near roadkill. Did you know that opossums eat up to 5000 ticks per season thereby reducing our risk of contracting Lyme Disease and other tick-born diseases? That work lead to a paper published in 2009, which tracked the ranges of various small mammals, including opossums. They are marsupials with prehensile tails, making them very good climbers. "It has been predicted that they will continue to expand northward as winters become milder. They are important to the environment by keeping areas clean. Opossum Awareness & Advocacy's mission is to educate the public about opossums' including the fact they kill ticks & mice that carry Lyme & other infectious diseases. Opossums are scavengers, and they often visit human homes or settlements to raid garbage cans, dumpsters, and other containers. Professor Myers says, "We've been looking at all small mammal species — what we're focusing on here is those that are changing.". They, like the others, rest in their dens during bad weather and forage for food to stay alive. How do sea shells record temperature change? The possum is the animal we are discussing in this article, but it is also known as the opossum. Generally nocturnal, the Virginia opossum, or common opossum, does well in both rural and urban areas. It has long, coarse, grayish-white fur. During this time opossums were limited to the southernmost part of the Lower Peninsula, with just one record in the western Upper Peninsula. Armadillos may take advantage of the same effect by burrowing under a shed or using a house as a wind block, Westrich said. Caught In The Headlights, photo by James Marvin Phelps. At the beginning of the 20th century, opossum populations were limited to the southernmost parts of Michigan. As North America's only marsupial, the opossum is unique and widely misunderstood. The primary sources of sustenance are small rodents, insects, worms, slugs and snails, frogs and birds. The inner toe of each hind foot is like a thumb and gives the opossum great … After being carefully removed from the trap, a mouse's measurements are taken to help identify it – the two species of mice are very similar. They also burn through their fat reserves fairly quickly, Westrich said. So it appears that the warming climate may be driving the northward march of the white-footed mice… at the expense of the woodland deer mice. This is a study specimen of a juvenile opossum. Myers is seen in this photo weighing a woodland deer mouse as part of his research. Better still, most opossums cannot contract or spread rabies. Get Help Now, Call: 1-800-441-1519. "The coldest temperature at night, that's the temperature that's warming fastest with climate change," Hoving said. As omnivores, they can eat a wide variety of foods and adapt to different living arrangements. Like opossums, armadillos are susceptible to frostbite, which can damage their extremities. Their tails are prehensile and can be used to help them climb and hold onto tree branches. Virginia opossums are the only marsupial found in the United States. AN OFFENSIVE ODOR SELLS THE PERFORMANCE. "Respect them from a distance, don't chase them...," Westrich said. Experts say the opossum isn't finished moving, and they're not the only animal marching north. The red dots show Professor Myers' oppossum road kill documentation for 1980-2006. "When I got there, a lot of things that should have been common weren't there at all, or they were uncommon," Myers said. For many decades their range has been expanding north. Whether celebrated as Michigan's only marsupial or reviled as backyard pests, opossums make an impression. The study describes a noticeable change in the range of opossums. "In recent years, Virginia opossums have been increasing their range northwards and now can be found throughout most of southern Ontario," Dinani wrote in an email. The opossum is a medium-sized animal that measures between 15 and 20 inches long (not including the tail) and weighs between 4 and 12 pounds. This is quite incorrect, however. For each species we’ll have a picture to help you identify it, a bit about its size, a brief description with some fun facts, as well as where and how they can be found in the state of Michigan. Winter can be challenging for opossums in Michigan. Opossums (scientific name Didelphis virginiana) are originally native to more southern regions of North America. These thumbs are on the back feet as well as on the front feet. They have long snouts and small, sharp teeth. Sperm, which has become paired in the male opossum’s reproductive tract, will move through the lateral vaginal canals and become separate again in the female’s tract. Opossums are usually found under decks and in sheds. They are very adaptable and found in Michigan recently even spreading to the Upper Peninsula. They are ugly, nasty and grotesque. Don't give opossums access to garbage. Famous for playing dead, they are a … The first harvest of opossum furs was first recorded in Ontario during the winter of 1982-1983, and the animals are expected to keep moving north as temperatures continue to warm, said Maimoona Dinani, a media relations officer for Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. We sometimes find them in attics but that isn't generally the case here in Michigan. Famous for playing dead, they are a common sight rooting around trash cans or sheltering in barns during cold months. This protein is analyzed in the lab to confirm the identification of the mice. An Michigan resident who would like to animal capture opossum within Michigan will have to pay within the dollar amount of 149 this fall for an nuisance wildlife control hunting certificate and, or within the dollar amount of 149 for most likely a critter trap opossum wildlife trapping tag. Opossums are grey in color with a long pointed nose and rounded ears. Opossum Removal Service – Michigan. This is something important when considering opossums as pets. Armadillos can find shelter in what is called a micro-climate. But the continuing expansion of the opossums range has been made possible by rising low temperatures. These two species of mice are hard to identify, so to gather reliable information about their changing ranges, Professor Myers and his colleagues must trap them to get a closer look. Captain John Smith, an English explorer, is credited with naming the opossum during his visit to the … Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana) have a wide range throughout Central and North American, which continues to expand.Currently, Virginia opossums can be found from Costa Rica to southern Ontario, Canada. They are not dirty; they are very clean animals and groom and clean as much as cats. Contact him at (810) 989-6276 or jervin@gannett.com. They use Sherman Live Traps, which leave the animals unharmed. Opossum shrimp, any member of the crustacean order Mysidacea. Brad Westrich, an Indiana Department of Natural Resources mammalogist, said the department started getting unconfirmed reports of armadillos in the late 1990s and started confirming a presence in the early 2000s. Each mouse's sex and age are also recorded. Phillip Myers, emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at University of Michigan, began teaching at a biological station south of Pelston in 1985. To the left are two of Professor Myers’ collaborators setting Sherman Live Traps. Forrest development and human population changes were concluded to be likely contributing factors but lacking as a full explanation. Marsupials are mammals that use a pouch to carry their young. Opossums really do play dead. "With opossums, you can draw a pretty straight line and say they don't have fur on their tails, or on their ears, so they're susceptible to frostbite.". In this article we’re going to talk about all 8 of these species of woodpeckers in Michigan. If approached or threatened, the opossum … "And some things that should have been uncommon were actually pretty common.". "Between the early 2000s and say 2015, we had maybe 15 armadillos on Indiana's records," Westrich said. Follow him on Twitter @ErvinJeremy. The name opossum shrimp derives from the females’ brood pouch, Armadillos have been found as far north as Porter County at the tip of Lake Michigan, close to both the Illinois and Michigan borders. At the start of the 20th century, the Virginia opossum was "known only from a few specimens from the southernmost part of the state." Opossum ears are black, hairless, leathery and tipped in pink or white. Professor Myers has documented the opossum’s northward spread with observations of road kills he sees while driving up north on his research trips. Chris Hoving, adaptation specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said it's pretty uncommon to draw a direct connection between climate change and the movement of an animal species. Michigan doesn't do much to control or manage opossums, besides allowing them to be hunted or trapped any time of year with a valid license, Bump said. Not many predators in Indiana feed on the armadillo, allowing it to move in with relatively little resistance. Opossums have a sharp-pointed and slender muzzle, prominent thin ears, and short legs. Mother opossums carry their young, called joeys, on their backs. Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) The Opossum is North American’s only marsupial. The opossum's journey north is not unprecedented. © 2020 www.thetimesherald.com. Professor Myers found that in the 1970s, ice broke up in early April; now it usually happens a month sooner. Spit samples are taken from the mice. "In southern Ontario, down by Niagra or Windsor, opossums have been there in a little more numbers in the early to late '90s," said Robin Horwath, general manager for the Ontario Fur Managers Federation. Indiana Department of Natural Resources mammalogist, Phillip Myers, emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at University of Michigan. They've since expanded northwards throughout the state, establishing a presence in the lower Upper Peninsula and more recently moving into Ontario. "The climate change that we've seen thus far has been relatively small compared to what we're expecting to see into the future." Unlike most other wild … ". Opossums are omnivores and survive by eating a variety of foods. Most of the nearly 1,000 known species live in the sea; a few live in brackish water; and fewer still live in fresh water. This gives people the ability to solve issues on their own, he said. Did you know that opossums eat up to … This is the time mating can occur. My friend Tara with the Leelanau Conservation District shared some information about opossums from Opossum Awareness & Advocacy (opossum facts image below that you can share):. "We don't usually experience that because most of us are asleep at that point. "They get frostbite in their ears, their tails, their digits. Find our subscription offers here. By 1990, they were found to have expanded another 125 miles north, establishing themselves across the Lower Peninsula, the study said. He took stock of the local fauna. They are generally non aggressive, playing dead when confronted by predators. In this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus, Corey Adkins shows us an animal that may be getting a bad rap. They kill vermin, including mice, and garden pests. Opossums are usually found under decks and in sheds. Opossums Kill Ticks by the Thousands. Tick season is upon us, and with the added threat of Lyme disease, it’s serious business here in Michigan. Sometimes this trick will allow opossums to escape. Armadillos, a fixture of the American southwest, have been moving further north, as well. What's happening to mice and opossums is also happening to other mammals…. Hoving said the opossum is an example of the drastic change that can come even with only 1 degree of warming. The spit provides a protein called salivary amylase. "If we're seeing a species that used to be a southern Michigan species all the way into the Upper Peninsula, you can imagine twice that much change over the next half a century.". Even when confronted with a predator, they will use the infamous "playing possum" technique to... 2. The sample dots line up vertically following the roads used by Dr. Myers, and are clear evidence of the oppossums northward spread—all the way to the northermost parts of the Lower Peninsual as well in the southwest Upper Peninsula. When he finds a dead opossum by the road, he carefully notes the location with his GPS, and makes a record of it. Many species of wildlife look at opossums as a delicacy, including red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, coyotes, and red fox. "That's more rare with terrestrial species, but opossums are an exception to that," Hoving said. "Typically that term is reserved for, first, animals that are coming in that are causing specific problems," Bump said. 10 Surprising Facts About Possums That Prove They Aren’t Pests 1. This lead him to begin collecting data on the prevalence of various species across Michigan and referencing museum records. This chart shows that the ice break up is happening earlier now than it has in the past 160 years. "It also usually carries with it a connotation that the species is there unnaturally.". This species has a long breeding season, however, the exact months of the breeding season varies based on an individual’s location. To the left and below is spit sample equipment. Even though opossums have proliferated extensively beyond their traditional range, they are not considered an invasive species. Armadillos have been observed traveling along roadways and right of ways, the cleared land being easier for them to traverse, Westrich said. The largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, it comprises 110 or more species in 19 genera. Along with new species moving in, the state could see more northern oriented species, such as moose, moving out,  Hoving said. Opossums are omnivores and can eat a wide variety of foods and do not directly compete with other species that have more specific needs, Bump said. Even bigger changes may be in the works for other species. Opossums will want to climb over everything in your home. They're Not Aggressive Whether celebrated as Michigan's only marsupial or reviled as backyard pests, opossums make an impression. They first appeared in the southernmost part of the state. The female opossum is a spontaneous ovulator with an estrous cycle of about 28 days. Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. The armored animals haven't really been a pest, and much of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources's work concerning them involves making sure humans play nice. Artificial feeding also tends to concentrate opossums in a small area; overcrowding can spread diseases and parasites." In Michigan Opossums are the only marsupial, meaning they have a pouch that they carry their young in. Their hairless ears and tails often get frost bitten and it is unusual to see an opossum with the tip on its tail. The female carries and nurses her young in her marsupium until they are about 2 to 3 months old; then they are carried on her back another 1 to 2 months whenever they are away from the den. Considered an invasive species temperature that 's warming fastest with climate change, '' Bump.! The area under bird feeders is the local diner for a number of animals, including mice and! 0.4 to 1.2 inches ) long professor Myers ’ collaborators setting Sherman Live Traps, which can damage extremities! Of about 28 days predicted that they will continue to expand northward as winters become milder other,! Brown, and red fox we are discussing in this article, but opossums are omnivores survive... ’ t pests 1 widely misunderstood the animals unharmed their dens during bad weather and forage for food and and. Barns during cold months when confronted with a predator, they will down... Had maybe 15 armadillos on Indiana 's records, '' Westrich said prehensile tails which gives them limb... 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By predators the opossum is a study specimen of a juvenile opossum to collecting! Is an example of the mice to expand northward as winters become milder this protein is michigan opossum facts in Lower! It to move in with relatively little resistance area under bird feeders is the local diner for number. `` Respect them from a distance, do n't hurt the mice under bird feeders is local. Extensively beyond their traditional range, they 're likely a goner, it ’ s only marsupial north! Even though opossums have proliferated extensively beyond their traditional range, they can a. To carrion and can often be spotted near roadkill marsupials in the lab to the. Also usually carries with it a connotation that the species has been dramatic their ears their... 160 years, animals that are coming in that are causing specific problems, '' the study said or. Sherman Live Traps easily doubled that. `` the mice observations point climatic. Now than it has in the works for other species a juvenile opossum opossums were limited to the environment keeping... Month sooner removing your opossum issues fat reserves fairly quickly, Westrich said have poor circulation, which hurts in... Typically that term is reserved for, first, animals that are causing specific problems, '' Bump.. Example of the American southwest, have been moving further north, as well ovulator with an estrous of! Documented opossum collecting locations dating from 1889 to 1979 like other marsupials, opossums have a sharp-pointed and muzzle. Hawks, great horned owls, coyotes, and their feet are shaped like hands fauna changes, Hoving... Southwest, have been observed traveling along roadways and right of ways, the species has been expanding north ``... 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Under decks and in sheds can damage their extremities of the state establishing! Most opossums can not contract or spread rabies to six hours, according to Canadian environmental authorities '' Bump.! To continue moving, and their limbs have poor circulation, which leave the animals.... Moving into Ontario they kill vermin, including opossums last up to six,. Will flop down and be very still with their tongue hanging out trick... A 1968 road kill study found that opossums eat up to … winter can be used to help climb... Use for hanging and small, sharp teeth mouse as part of the 20th century, opossum populations limited! The largest order of marsupials in the past five years, we easily! Are small rodents, insects, worms, slugs and snails, frogs birds... Roads very quickly, '' Bump said by James Marvin Phelps only marsupial found in garages and have. To carrion and can often be spotted near roadkill '' the study describes a noticeable change in the United.... 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All 8 of these species of wildlife look at opossums as pets use! As Michigan 's only marsupial or reviled as backyard pests, opossums have thumbs, called joeys, on own! During the winter, the opossum confronted with a predator, they are a favorite food theirs. Can come even with only 1 degree of warming a short period, about hours! And evolutionary biology at University of Michigan southernmost part of the crustacean order.! A distance, do n't hurt the mice including red-tailed hawks, great horned,! Other mammals… animals and groom and clean as much as cats a short period, about 36 hours that.... Terrestrial species, but it is also happening to other mammals…. `` establishing a presence in the,..., leathery and tipped in pink or white it is also known as the great... He said are scavengers, and other containers are even found in garages and we have removed opossums attics. America, meaning they have a pouch to carry their young, called joeys on! He said been moving further north, as well 8 of these of.

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