Opossums are, ultimately, tropical animals. Out of over 100 opossum species in the world, nearly all live in the hot deserts and rainforests and Central and South America. Opossums aren’t equipped with adaptations for surviving winter: they can’t hibernate, and they have naked feet, tails, and ears that are highly susceptible to frostbite.
Our native Virginia opossum is stubborn little survivor and, over thousands of years, managed to create a life for itself even in parts of North America with very cold winters. Due to climate change and the loss of large predators, opossums can now even be found in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and even parts of Canada! Still, winter is a rough time for them and the majority of wild Virginia opossums don’t survive their first winter. Those who do survive often lose tails and ears to frostbite— ow!
You can give a helping hand to your local opossums by providing shelters in the form of nesting boxes and insulated pet houses. There is no specific model or company that we recommend, but as a general rule, an opossum will enjoy using any shelter made for cats or any large mounted nest box such as those intended for wood ducks. There are many commercially available products available, as well as guides to building them yourself with inexpensive materials.
Thank you to everyone who looks out for their wild neighbors during this season of giving!