Difference Between Opossum and Possum

Opossum vs Possum

Opossum and possum sound much similar, and both of them are marsupials, but the differences are many between them. It would be fascinating to understand the particular differences between opossum and possum with regard to some of the biological aspects. Morphology, ethology, ecology, and physiology are important to consider in discussing the differences between them.


Opossums are the largest marsupial order (Order: Didelphidae) in western hemisphere with more than 100 species classified in 19 genera. Their body sizes vary between small and medium sizes. They are significant with a long snout, narrow brain case, and a prominent sagittal chest. The hairless skinny tail is another important feature to notice about opossums. Opossums like to live a solitary life, but they are not territorial animals as they move to places with higher food abundance. They are not burrowing animals, but live on trees (arboreal). Opossums have all types of teeth including sharp canines, an indication about their food habits being carnivorous. However, they eat both plant and animal matter to fulfil the energy requirements, making them omnivorous. Female opossums have two breeding cycles per year and they breed at a high rate. Opossums are not aggressive animals and cause no harm to the people or pets. Since they have very high level of immunity, their resistance for rabies could be a health risk for humans in case of a bite. Most of their populations are stable and do not face many threats as they could adapt to the environment very well.


Possums are native to Australia and surrounding islands and there are more than 70 different species of them. They belong to the Order: Diprodontia, under marsupials. Possums have round and flattened face with a small snout. Their large eyes are positioned mostly towards the front. The bushy tail is long and mostly black in colour. Possums have sharp claws, which are useful for their arboreal lifestyle, and the first digit of the hind limb toes does not have a claw and opposable to others. They are nocturnal herbivores that feed on fruits, vegetables, flowers, and young shoots, but sometimes they become opportunistic omnivores. The Australian government supports the conservation of possums by introducing laws to protect them, as they are endemic to Oceania. Possums have different colouration according to the species, and their tops are usually ashy white and bellies are yellowish-orange.

What is the difference between Opossum and Possum?

· Opossum and possum belong to two different orders, albeit both of them are marsupials.

· Opossums range in North America, while possums range in Oceania.

· Opossums are always omnivorous animals, whereas possums are generally herbivorous and sometimes omnivorous.

· Opossums have a bare tail, while possums have bushy hairy tail.

· Opossum has an elongated face with a long snout, but possum has a round and flat face.

· The coat colours are different with various combinations in both these animals.

· Opossums prefer colder climates with ice and snow, whereas possums like mostly subtropical climates.