Commonly referred to as 'possums, but not to be confused with the Australian possum - spelt without the extra 'O'. The Australian possum is extremely endangered and if you kill one you will most definately feel the long arm of the law. The opossum is however, also a marsupial - the only marsupial in North America. They are about the size of a large house cat.
Distribution: The opossum is found across the eastern USA except for Maine, west to Colorado and Texas, north to Minnesota and up into Canada as far as Toronto, and south right down to Mexico. It is also found on Pacific coastal areas and some parts of Arizona and New Mexico. The favourite habitats of the opossum are farmland, woodland and suburban gardens. However, they are not fussy and will live in the inner city and other places. The opossum always likes to live near a source of fresh water such as a stream.
Prey: Omnivorous. Eats carrion, poultry, eggs, insects, snails, rodents, berries, fruit, grass, snakes, frogs, birds, small mammals, cat and dog food.
Control: When killing an opossum, please make sure that is actually dead. A fairly normal tactic for avoiding predators is to play dead. The possum will lie on it's back, it's eyes glazed over, and tongue falling out. Given that many predators will not eat carrion, they move on.
You can use a humane (live) trap to catch opossums, in the size that is normally used for catching nuisance cats.
A bit like this
There's a better page than I could ever do on trapping opossums here.
It is possible to eat an opossum. There are lots of recipes for it here, and I hear it doesn't taste too bad.
How Do I Know It Was An Opossum? An opossum will eat the kill near the coop, and will find it near impossible to drag it over a fence.
Opossums are nocturnal.
Opossums often take eggs and chicks
Birds mauled and abdomen eaten
Photo courtesy of www.nhptv.org
Photo courtesy of iwrc-online.org
Opossum tracks, going in direction of arrow
Photo courtesy of Ella from Minnesota
Image courtesy of elkhorn.unl.edu