NEBRASKAland July 2016

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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Page 7 of 79

Virginia Opossum By Lindsay Rogers Didelphis virginiana As North America's only marsupial, Virginia opossums give birth to drastically underdeveloped young which are about the size of a grape. These nearly helpless young have surprisingly strong front legs which allow them to crawl into their mother's pouch. If they safely make the journey into the pouch, the young will continue to grow and develop for another 3-4 months. Historically Virginia opossums were found in Central America north to the southern and southeastern United States. With the increase of human populations and changing climate, they have increased their range which now extends into Canada. Individuals in more northern climates often seek shelter in buildings. Additionally, their hairless ears and tails often show signs of frostbite. Contrary to popular belief, "playing 'possum" is rare and typically seen in young adults. More often, opossums become aggressive or simply flee when faced with danger. ■ Lindsay Rogers is an outdoor education specialist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. A Mammal Brief 8 NEBRASKAland • JULY 2016

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