16 Difference between Opossum and Possum(With Table)

Marsupials belong to a mammal group. They are divided into the American marsupials and the Australian marsupials. These subdivisions have distinctive features.

The American marsupials are found in North, South, and Central America. Examples of the American marsupials are the opossums and shrew opossums.

The Australian marsupials are found in Australia and New Guinea. They tend to be quite intelligent when compared to American marsupials.

Examples of Australian marsupials are kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, quolls, wombats, numbats, possums, marsupial moles, and bandicoots.

A lot of people tend to use opossum and possum interchangeably but this tends to be quite wrong. If you are a student pursuing animal biology then you are in the right place.

So, what is the main difference between opossum and possum ? An opossum is a marsupial mammal with a white face and is mostly found in North America while opossum is a marsupial mammal with a round face and is mainly found in Native Australia.

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Comparison Table between Opossum and Possum (In Tabular Form)

Basic TermsOpossumPossum
DefinitionIt is a marsupial mammal that inhabits North AmericaIt is a marsupial mammal that inhabits Native Australia
FoodEat dead things with plantsEat fruits and leaves
Geographic LocationNorth, South and Central AmericaNative Australia and New Guinea
DwellingLive on treesLive on both land and trees
SizeTend to be longer since the measure 3 to 22 inches in lengthTend to be shorter since they measure 3 inches to 4 feet in length
WeightWeigh about 1 to 11 poundsWeigh about 6 ounces to 32 pounds.
Appearance of snoutHave long snoutHave small snout
Appearance of tailA bare or rat-like tailHave a bushy and black tail
Shape of faceElongated faceLong and round face
Physical AppearanceVery scary lookingLess scary looking
Climate ConditionsColder conditions with ice and snowSubtropical conditions
Body-colorWhiteface with greyish white bodyHave several colors such as black, chinchilla, gray, silver-gray, and gold
CamouflagePlay dead when threateningCannot play dead
IntelligenceNot smartQuite smart
DangerousVery dangerousNot dangerous

What Is Opossum?

The opossum is a marsupial mammal that inhabits North, South, and Central America. They belong to the family of Didelphidae.

The marsupials have sharp teeth like those of the cats and they have a bare rat-like tail. They have scary looking but they do an amazing task of eating ticks and many other vermin.

The most wonderful thing is that they do not have rabies. They carry the virus which can be lethal to horses and even kill small chickens.

If you are a horse owner and chicken farmer then stay away from petting opossums. You can consult experts on how to pet opossums and still keep horses and chickens on the same farm.

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Opossum (difference between opossum and possum)

What Is Possum?

Possum is a marsupial mammal that inhabits Native Australia and New Guinea. They normally occur in different colors such as black, silver-grey, brown, and gold.

The marsupial mammals belong to the family of Phalangeridae and they have a close similarity to American opossums. They are widely kept as pets in Australia and some parts of the world.

The mammals have a bush tail that looks like that of a large chinchilla. They have larger ears and smooth fur all over their body. Possums tend to play dead when threaten.

Possums feed on birds’ eggs, insects, leaves, flowers, shoots, fruits, and seeds among many others. The physical appearance of possums makes them ideal for being kept as exotic pets.

Possum (difference between opossum and possum)

Main Difference between Possum and Opossum in Point Form

  1. The opossum is marsupials that inhabit North America while the possum is marsupials that inhabit Native Australia.
  2. Possum belong to the family of Phalangeridae while opossum belong to the family of Didelphidae
  3. The diet of the opossum is eating dead things and plants while possum is eating fruits, leaves, and plants
  4. Opossums are smaller in size while possums are large
  5. Possum tend to be longer while opossums are shorter in terms of length
  6. Opossum have longer snout while possum has a shorter snout
  7. Opossum have bare rat-like tail while possum has a bushy tail
  8. Opossum have elongated face while possum have long and round face
  9. Opossum prefer colder conditions marked with ice and snow while possum prefer subtropical condition
  10. Opossum have scary looking while possum is less scary
  11. The opossum has a white face with a greyish-white body while the possum has a variation of colors such as black, chinchilla grey, silver-grey, and gold
  12. Possum has high intelligence while opossum are less smarter
  13. Opossum play dead when threatening while possum does not play dead
  14. Opossum are more dangerous than possum

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Possum Vs Opossum: Comparison Video


Both opossum and possum are marsupial mammals. But they are scientifically and technically different animals. If you are looking for something that can get rid of the pest in your yard then consider petting opossum. However, they have a virus that can be lethal to horses and chickens.

The core difference between possum and opossum is that possum is found in Native Australia and New Guinea while opossums are inhabitants of North America.

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More Sources and References

  1. Facts about Opossums and Possums. Pest Wiki.
  2. Emily Petsko. All about Possum and Opossum. Mental Floss.