Poor Possum with a Ponderous Pouch


This morning I went for a little walk around my yard–it was early, and I was just quietly looking at all the little growing things, and seeing which little things had popped out of the earth, and which were bigger than the day before. Suddenly a possum came running toward me. It startled me, so I moved into the road. It realized I was there, and decided to climb through the metal bars of my fence. Just one problem. The possum’s middle was gigantic, and she couldn’t get through the bars. Poor thing. She probably thought she was like she was BEFORE she was carrying around a dozen or so little possums.

I watched as she struggled, trying not to laugh, because she was baring her teeth at me and obviously frightened, but it looked so cartoon-like as her front claws dug a hole on the other side of the fence as she tried to get through. She gave up and backed out–and then tried to go through an identical space just to her right! Amazingly, after 5-10 seconds of struggling, she finally got through the second time. Maybe some of her babies moved around.

I found out that possums have the smallest brain to body ratio of any mammal (which explains a lot!) I also found that they usually have 16-20 babies that are just the size of a grain of rice. After they are born (just a couple of weeks after the mother mates) they make their scary way across her hairy belly to the pouch. Many don’t make it, and the mother only has 13 nipples, so if they don’t find a nipple to attach to, they will also die. About 2 months later they are big enough to leave the pouch.

Talk about interesting. I hope I see her again tomorrow.


4 responses to “Poor Possum with a Ponderous Pouch

  1. dang, only 13 nips, huh?

  2. I am wondering about the layout of the 13 nipples – are they symmetrical somehow? Are they just randomly sprouting out all over? The mind boggles.

  3. I KNOW! Isn’t that just weird?! It’s not typical for nature to be asymmetrical. Inquiring minds want to know, so rest assured, I’ll do some more research on this topic.

  4. I now know. They are in a circle with one in the middle. I also discovered they can vary between 7 and 25, but apparently it’s always an odd number, with one in the middle.

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