Australian Possum vs American Opossum

The terms “possum” and “opossum” frequently occur together in the broad world of wildlife, which causes misunderstanding about the genuine identities of these marsupials. Despite having similar names, Australian and American opossums are different animals with their traits, habits, and habitats. We will look at the interesting variations between these two marsupial species in this blog and consider how they have adapted to their separate habitats.

A Table Of Differences Between Australian Possums Vs American Opossums

FactorAustralian PossumsAmerican Opossums
NameAustralian PossumsAmerican Opossums
AppearanceFur-covered ears, bushy tails, pointed facesNaked ears, rat-like tails, pointed faces
Body Size & TailGenerally smaller, varying sizes based on speciesGenerally larger, long, prehensile tails
WeightsVaries by species, typically up to 1-5 kg (2.2-11 lbs)Varies by species, typically up to 1-5 kg (2.2-11 lbs)
DistributionPrimarily found in Australia, some in New Guinea and nearby islandsFound in North, Central, and South America
HabitatDiverse habitats including forests, urban areas, and grasslandsWide range of habitats, including forests, marshes, and urban areas
DietOmnivorous – feeds on fruits, flowers, insects, and small vertebratesOpportunistic omnivores – eat fruits, insects, carrion, small animals, and trash
Special adaptationsExcellent climbers, prehensile tails for balance and gripRemarkable ability to “play dead” or “play possum” when threatened

Australian Possums vs American Opossums With More Details

Australian Possums:

Location and Habitat: Australian possums, which are mostly found in Australia, New Guinea, and the neighbouring islands, are members of the Phalangeridae family. They have a high degree of adaptability and can survive in a variety of habitats, from deep woods to homes and backyards. If you find one in your home or backyard get in touch with us for safe and humane possum removal in Australia.

Physical Characteristics: With long tails that let them easily climb and leap between trees, these quick marsupial species have developed an arboreal lifestyle. They have large, spherical eyes, sensitive ears, excellent night vision, and keen hearing, all of which aid them in navigating their nocturnal existence.

Behaviour and Diet: The main sources of food for Australian possums include fruits, leaves, flowers, and nectar. They are great climbers and rarely come down to the ground, spending most of their time in trees. They hunt at night and hide in tree hollows during the day because they are nocturnal animals.

Diverse Species: A variety of possum species with distinctive colours and patterns can be found in Australia. The charming Sugar Glider, Ringtail Possum, and Common Brushtail Possum are a few common kinds.

American Opossums: 

Location and Habitat: American opossums are native to the Americas, mainly North and South America, and are members of the Didelphidae family. They have a wider range of habitats, from urban areas to swamps and woodlands.

Physical Characteristics: American opossums are not well suited for an arboreal lifestyle, unlike their Australian namesakes. Although they are semi-arboreal and have a prehensile tail, they frequently choose to scavenge on the ground. When attacked, opossums use a special defence technique known as “playing possum,” in which they pretend to be dead in an effort to scare away prospective predators.

Diet and Behaviour: The diversified diet of opossums, who are opportunistic omnivores, includes fruits, insects, small mammals, carrion, and even trash. Their hunting behaviour and capacity to eat rotting matter support the ecology by assisting in environmental sanitization.

Diverse Species: Opossums occur mainly in North America, with the Virginia opossum being the most well-known species. Despite its extensive existence, its significance to the ecosystem is sometimes overlooked and misinterpreted.


Even though the terms “possum” and “opossum” can be confusing, Australian possums and American opossums are two different marsupials that have evolved to survive in various habitats. The vast environments of Australia and its surroundings are home to the numerous species and arboreal ability of the Australian possum. The American opossum, on the other hand, is an adaptable scavenger that can live in a variety of settings throughout the Americas.

Both animals have crucial roles in their habitats and make distinct contributions to the harmony of nature. The remarkable diversity of life on our planet is highlighted by an understanding of the contrasts between these two marsupials, and it serves as a reminder of the significance of protecting their habitats for future generations.