When Do Opossums Have Their Babies?
Opossums, also known as possums, are unique creatures that can be found in various parts of North and South America. These marsupials have a characteristic pouch where they carry their young ones. If you’ve ever come across an opossum, you might wonder when they have their babies. Let’s find out!
Opossums are known for their reproductive habits, which differ from those of many other mammals. They have a relatively short gestation period of only 12 to 13 days. Yes, you read it right! Once the female opossum mates, it takes just around two weeks for her to give birth to her babies.
Interestingly, opossums are polygamous, meaning they mate with multiple partners. This behavior increases the chances of successful fertilization. After mating, the fertilized eggs develop into tiny embryos, which then migrate to the female’s pouch. These embryos attach themselves to the teats inside the pouch, where they will continue to develop and grow.
The opossum’s pouch acts as a protective cradle for the developing embryos. Inside the pouch, the embryos undergo further development, resembling miniature opossums. The newborn opossums, called joeys, are only the size of a honeybee when they are born. They are hairless, blind, and completely dependent on their mother for survival.
Now, let’s move on to some frequently asked questions about opossums and their babies:
1. How many babies do opossums have at once?
Opossums can have a large litter of up to 20 or more babies, but the average litter size is around 6 to 9.
2. How long do opossums stay in their mother’s pouch?
The joeys typically stay in the pouch for about 70 to 80 days, during which they continue to develop and grow.
3. What happens if an opossum loses her babies?
If a female opossum loses her babies due to predation or any other reason, she can mate again and have a second litter.
4. Can opossums breed year-round?
Yes, opossums can breed throughout the year, but their peak breeding season is in late winter and early spring.
5. Do opossums care for their young?
Yes, opossum mothers are highly devoted to their young. They provide nourishment, protection, and teach their babies important survival skills.
6. Are opossums born with fur?
No, opossums are born hairless. They gradually develop fur as they grow older.
7. Do opossums build nests for their babies?
No, opossums do not build nests. Instead, they seek out safe and secluded dens to give birth and raise their young.
8. Can opossums have different fathers for their babies?
Yes, opossums are known for having multiple fathers for their litters as they are polygamous animals.
9. Are opossums born with their eyes closed?
Yes, opossums are born with closed eyes. They open their eyes after about 50 days.
10. How long do opossums live?
In the wild, opossums have an average lifespan of 2 to 4 years. However, captive opossums can live up to 8 years.
11. Do opossums become aggressive when they have babies?
Opossums are generally not aggressive animals. However, they may become defensive if they feel threatened or if their babies are in danger.
12. Are opossums good mothers?
Opossum mothers are dedicated caregivers. They groom their young, protect them from harm, and teach them essential skills until they are ready to venture out on their own.
In conclusion, opossums have a unique reproductive cycle that allows them to give birth to tiny, underdeveloped joeys. Despite their size and vulnerability, these babies grow and thrive under the care of their devoted mothers. Observing opossums in the wild can be a fascinating experience, especially if you happen to spot a mother carrying her precious babies in her pouch.