Come hop aboard the possum bus!
This omnibus takes all of us
Mom-possum navigates the trail
With whiskered nose and long pink tail
All of us children clamber on
We cling to her, a possum throng
No fights aboard this crowded bus
‘Cause momma is the boss of us
Our possum momma is so strong
To ferry all her kids along
And seat belts are superfluous
We’re safe aboard our possum bus
When we were smaller, we’d all crouch
On lower decks, inside her pouch
But as we grew, we made the swap
And now we ride in style on top
— Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud
The opossum is the only marsupial (or animal with a pouch) native to North America. This nocturnal critter finds a safe, dry hole in a tree or a log to make its home. It sleeps during the day and trundles about at night looking for all sorts of delicious things to eat: insects, mice, fruit, slugs and snails, dead things, even poisonous snakes (they are not affected by the venom). They eat just about anything and so are called “omnivores.”
This marsupial can hang upside down from its strong tail, (which is impressive) but cannot run very fast. It does not have big teeth or claws to defend itself against predators (animals that might want to eat the possum). If it feels that danger is near, sometimes it will lay down and play dead. It does not decide to do this; it is for the possum, a bit like fainting. It happens naturally when the possum is frightened. It even produces a rotting smell that helps to convince predators that the animal has been dead for too long to make a tasty meal.
The mom-possum is strong and takes care of her children by letting them ride in her pouch when they are small. When they have outgrown the belly pouch, they crawl up onto her back to get a ride through the forest on the momma-bus. A mother possum can carry up to fifteen baby possums as she trundles through the forest highways and byways.