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The opossum has opposable “thumbs.” The thumbs are on its rear feet (so, technically they’re toes), and help with the opossum’s formidable climbing skills. Primates and opossums are the only mammals with opposable first toes. They have prehensile tails which are adapted for grasping and wrapping around things like tree limbs. Opossums have been observed carrying bundles of grasses and other materials by looping their tail around them; this conscious control leads many to consider the tail as a fifth appendage, like a hand.

Opossums are at home in both urban and suburban areas. They rarely remain in one place for more than three or four days and do not dig their own den. Instead they will often sleep in an old woodchuck hole, under a fallen tree, or in a hollow log, and will occasionally use the open spaces under decks, porches, and stairs.  The opossum has an average lifespan of 1 to 2 years due in part to the presence of many predators including dogs, cats and people. Opossums today can be found throughout the United States and portions of Canada and Mexico.   Male opossums are called jacks and females are called jills. The young are referred to as joeys, just like their Australian cousins, and a group of opossums is called a passel.

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