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In the wild, the opossum has a relatively short life span with only a small proportion of animals growing to be over four years old, so it is natural that litters tend to be quite large with baby opossums usually having plenty of siblings. Like several other species that have adapted to live among humans, this has had an impact on the mating process for opossums. The pattern today is one that sees the female opossum especially regularly mating, and in areas where there are plenty of resources you can see a significant population boom.
The Mating Season
While rats have adapted to mate throughout the year, the opossum hasn't reached this point yet, but currently the mating season begins in late January and continues until November. This means that the female can carry several litters during the year, and with the gestation period only taking a relatively short time, it is possible to see the earliest litters being born in early February.
The female opossum is only in estrus for around 36 hours of a 28 day cycle, and during this period she will be attracted by the male which will make a clicking noise. The opossums are generally sexually active within a year of their birth, and one of the interesting aspects of the sexual organs of the opossum is that the males have a bifurcated penis and the females have a bifurcated vagina.
Birth And Early Months
Around twelve days after mating, the female will give birth to a large litter of baby opossums, and these small animals will then have to crawl up the fur on the inside of the female's pouch to try and attack to a teat. The young are born pink and hairless, and will spend a long time in the pouch, growing to a point where they can be left alone for short periods.
Growth Into Adult Opossums
The baby opossums will usually remain in the pouch for a period between two and a half months and four months, but as the opossum is a solitary animal the young will usually strike out and leave their mother. The opossum will occasionally live in family groups, but this will only happen where there is an abundance of food and the family group will not be competing for food. For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does opossum removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of opossums - my main opossum removal info guide.
Example opossum trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Opossum job blog - learn from great examples of opossum jobs I've done.