Although both species are known to prefer areas associated with water, trap success and distance to permanent water sources were not related in either control or removal areas (Ginger 2002). Capture rates on control grids were qualitatively higher both before and during raccoon removal (Fig. Total opossum captures were calculated per trapsite per month, with data from April to August used for the summer 1998 period, and from May and July for summer 2000. Pedlar et al. Follow the link below to find out more and to sign up! 2). The Virginia (or common) opossum is the only North American marsupial. The breeding season of the Virginia opossum falls between December and October, and the majority of young are born between February and June. The Virginia possum is well-known for playing dead when it is threatened. Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), grama grasses (Bouteloua), purpletop (Tridens flavus), ragweed (Ambrosia), and buckbrush (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) are prevalent in the under-story (Ewing et al. These changes in overlap likely reflected the niche shift observed at the microhabitat level. 1). Raccoons were more abundant in agricultural areas with high densities of streams than forested areas with low densities of streams (Dijak and Thompson 2000). Virginia Opossums are about the size of a small dog, their fur generally appears grayish but they can be black, cinnamon and even albino. It is believed to have been borrowed from the Powhatan language and derived from a Proto-Algonquian word, “apousoum,” which means “white dog or dog-like animal.” Join the thousands of Active Wild subscribers who receive free wildlife and science news & info direct to their inboxes! Similar patterns also could be reflected across both scales if study species responded to local and landscape features. Densities of the study species on the entire CTER in 1998–1999 ranged from 3.9 to 12.8/km2 for opossums and 8.6 to 15.3/km2 for raccoons (Levesque 2001). A removal experiment is an effective way to study competitive interactions, due to its controlled nature (Connell 1975). Pedlar et al. S. D. Gehrt reviewed an earlier draft of the manuscript. Buskirk (1999) summarized characteristics and importance of these species: they are notable for their diversity of taxa, form, and function and are ecologically vital because they affect behaviors and demography of prey, cycle nutrients by scavenging carrion, affect plant fitness (and possibly landscape patterns) through dispersal and predation of seeds, complete or interrupt life cycles of pathogens or parasites of other animals, and influence distributions and abundances of nonprey vertebrates, including each other. However, adult size varies greatly: males tend to be larger than females, northern specimens outgrow those in the tropics and the Virginia opossums living near urban areas tend to be heavier than their rural counterparts. Biplot for 1st and 3rd principal component axes of scores for microhabitat vegetation and opossum capture samples in summers (April–August) 1998 and 2000 on Cross Timbers Experimental Range, Payne County, Oklahoma. In some cases, they will fall over and play dead, hence the term “play possum”. But they can show directional turns to avoid being captured when pursued. For each trapsite, we sampled understory cover by the Daubenmire method (Bonham 1989) in a 1-m2 plot at each trap site and in 1-m2 plots 10 m from a trap site in northeast (45°), southeast (135°), southwest (225°), and northwest (315°) directions. If a competing species is removed and habitat segregation results from interspecific interactions, then other species should demonstrate competitive release characterized by a shift in habitat selection (Löfgren 1995). Prey partitioning, both spatially (Litvaitis 1981) and temporally (Bothma et al. You can see what the Virginia opossum looks like in the video below: The South American ancestors of the Virginia opossum moved to North America about 3 million years ago. Basal area (m2/ha) was calculated for groups of tree species (eastern redcedar, oak, nonoak deciduous, and total) at each trapsite. Raccoons are larger in body mass (5 kg compared with 2 kg) and have larger home ranges (79–707 ha—summarized by Kaufman 1982) than opossums (4–114 ha—Gipson and Kamler 2001; Lay 1942; Seidensticker et al. Search for other works by this author on: Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, Effects of habitat fragmentation on birds and mammals in landscapes with different proportions of suitable habitat: a review. Schoener (1983) noted that greater niche overlap in food type or microhabitat implied a greater tendency to compete than to overlap at larger scales. Capture rates and estimated densities of opossums on the 2 areas were not affected by treatment (6.95 opossums/km2 on the removal area, 6.83/km2 on the removal area; Kasparian 2002). In winter they have a difficult time, and I wanted to explore some of the ways that they survive winter. If a significant (P < 0.05) interaction between selection and habitat was observed, Bonferroni confidence intervals were calculated to determine which habitat types were used differently than their availability (Byers et al. Its front feet have five clawed toes. Opossums have 50 teeth, more than any other North American land mammal, and opposable, clawless thumbs on their rear limbs. Click on the photo below to discover this week’s animal! 2). 1997). Virginia Opossum North Carolina Wildlife Profiles The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial native to the United States. Opossum captures in the 1998 control and 2000 removal groups were most correlated with the 3rd axis (−0.15, 0.33). Virginia opossums eat almost anything, including fruit, insects, earthworms, eggs, nestlings, birds, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and carrion. The Virginia opossum is a solitary, nocturnal animal that is active between dusk and dawn. They may also “play possum.” This involuntary response involves falling over and becoming unresponsive for up to six hours. Sometimes the opossum is unusual in that it has a clawless, opposable ‘ thumb ’ each. 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