16 Critical Difference between Opossum and Possum with Comparison Table

What is the difference between opossum and possum?

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.

The examples of the 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.

The core difference between opossum and possum is that opossum is a marsupial mammal with a white face and mostly found in North America while opossum is a marsupial mammal with a round face and mainly found in Native Australia.

Comparison Table between Opossum and Possum (In Tabular Form)

Basic Terms Opossum Possum
Definition It is a marsupial mammal that inhabits North America It is a marsupial mammal that inhabits Native Australia
Family Didelphidae Phalangeridae
Food Eat dead things with plants Eat fruits and leaves
Geographic Location North, South and Central America Native Australia and New Guinea
Dwelling Live on trees Live on both land and trees
Size Tend to be longer since the measure 3 to 22 inches in length Tend to be shorter since they measure 3 inches to 4 feet in length
Weight Weigh about 1 to 11 pounds Weigh about 6 ounces to 32 pounds.
Appearance of snout Have long snout Have small snout
Appearance of tail A bare or rat-like tail Have a bushy and black tail
Shape of face Elongated face Long and round face
Physical Appearance Very scary looking Less scary looking
Climate Conditions Colder conditions with ice and snow Subtropical conditions
Body-color Whiteface with greyish white body Have several colors such as black, chinchilla, gray, silver-gray and gold
Camouflage Play dead when threatening Cannot play dead
Intelligence Not smart Quite smart
Dangerous Very dangerous Not 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 opossum and still keep horses and chicken on the same farm.

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 which 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 possum 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 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. Opossum are smaller in size while possum are large
  5. Possum tend to be longer while opossum 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 condition 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 the greyish-white body while 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

Read More: Difference between Cobwebs and Spider Webs

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.

More Sources and References

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