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An old joke poses the question, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" One of many possible answers to this question is, "To show the opossum that it could be done." Unfortunately, opossums find themselves the butt of this joke because they really are prone to getting hit by cars. This susceptibility to being run over is a direct result of the opossum's primary defense. Freezing, baring your teeth, or rolling over and playing dead might work if you are under attack from a predator, but it is less than effective against an oncoming automobile.

At this time of year, the opossum you see laying in the road may not be the only victim. Virginia Opossum breeding season is in full swing, so many females are currently transporting up to 13 babies in their pouch. The opossum's pouch is located on her abomen. At birth, the opossum's bean-sized babies climb inside the pouch and attach themselves to a nipple. They spend about 60 days nursing and growing in the pouch before emerging to cling to their mother's back for an additional 30-40 days. In the photo below, you can see a number of babies partially enclosed by their mothers pouch as she nurses them.

Virginia-Opossum-full-pouch

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