Or if you're from the South, just plain "possum.". The possum is quite an unusual animal. It is North America's only marsupial, having a pouch just like its cousin, the kangaroo. It has migrated to the U.S. from Central America, and it can trace it's lineage back over 50 million years. Its ancestors knew the dinosaurs.
It has a prehensile tail and is quite a good climber. But it is more awkward on the ground, waddling along on its short legs looking like its feet are sticking to the ground. With a mouth full of teeth, its grimace can look rather fierce, but it is actually quite timid. When threatened, it sometimes "plays 'possum," feigning death until the danger has passed.
Text and Images Copyright © 2001 David Wittler