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Posted by on Jan 8, 2016 in Tell Me Why |

Why Does an Opossum Hang by Its Tail?

Why Does an Opossum Hang by Its Tail?

An opossum is a furry animal that looks something like an overgrown rat. It has a long tail without much hair on it. The opossum spends a lot of time in trees, hunting and eating. It has a special fondness for fruit, and likes to invade orchards at night.

The opossum often eats upside down. To do this, it wraps its long tail around a branch, hangs head-down, and grasps its food with all four feet. After eating, the opossum sits on its hind legs and washes itself like a cat.

An opossum also uses its skillful tail as an extra hand for support while climbing. However, the adult is far too heavy to support himself by his tail alone.

Though young opossums can occasionally be seen hanging by their tails for brief periods, which may be where the myth got started, but even they don’t hang upside down while sleeping.

Still, the ‘possum’s prehensile tail is quite handy. It can curl tightly around branches, grasp and carry objects, and help stabilize the ‘possum as it clambers around in trees and bushes.

Content for this question contributed by Brian Dygon, resident of Ludlow, Hampden County, Massachusetts, USA