One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An American marsupial that has a ratlike prehensile tail and hind feet with an opposable thumb.
- ‘There are more than 250 species of birds, in an island just 26 miles long and seven miles wide, and animals from armadillos and agoutis to racoons and opossums.’
- ‘Primitively clumsy and slow, with conical heads and pointed pink noses, sparse gray fur and naked ears, mature opossums reach the size of house cats (about ten pounds).’
- ‘He goes behind the fields and starts to trap opossums, skunks, rabbits, and squirrels.’
- ‘Many of the animals intentionally introduced to new habitats have been herbivorous mammals, including goats, rabbits, pigs, sheep, cattle, horses, donkeys, monkeys, deer, wallabies, opossums, and squirrels.’
- ‘Crickets are eaten by small owls, birds, snakes, mice, frogs, raccoons, opossums and many other creatures.’
- ‘Even though we're on the edge of a major city, our yard is populated by a variety of mice, moles, squirrels, chipmunks and opossums.’
- ‘All kinds of critters like to dine on poultry, including raccoons, skunks, opossums, weasels, foxes, coyotes, dogs and feral cats.’
- ‘Skunks, foxes, weasels, opossums and rabbits all use groundhog burrows for their dens.’
- ‘In Florida's Marion County, Interstate 75 cuts right through a state-long swath of greenway that's habitat for bobcats, opossums, and armadillos.’
- ‘The opossum sleeps 19 hours out of every 24 and the giraffe sleeps only about 2.’
- ‘Scientists say this mammal is the oldest known fossil ancestor of modern marsupials - which include opossums, kangaroos, and koalas.’
- ‘The mammals the researchers studied were the platypus, echidna, opossum, wallaby, hedgehog, mouse, rat, rabbit, cow, pig, bat, tree shrew, colugo, ringtail lemur, and humans.’
- ‘Marsupials, such as the opossums of the Americas and the kangaroos, koalas, and wombats of Australasia, generally give birth to tiny immature young which then complete their developments in a pouch.’
- ‘Meanwhile, creatures that benefit from living around people follow them into disturbed areas, including opossums, raccoons, pigeons and dumpster-diving rats.’
- ‘Don't put out any more seed than can be eaten by the birds by nightfall, especially where raccoons, opossums, deer, or rodents are a problem.’
- ‘Oh, that story with the opossums is a true story.’
- ‘That's when the animals are most active and it's fun to see the deer, raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and birds.’
- ‘A farmer looking through the fields before harvesting his crop sees rabbits, opossums, mice, rats, birds, foxes, skunks and snakes.’
- ‘As forests become chopped up into ever smaller chunks, the amount of ‘edge’ habitat increases for predators such as blue jays, crows, raccoons, opossums, feral cats, black rat snakes, and others that prey upon birds or their eggs.’
- ‘Many species of warblers sensitive to forest fragmentation live there, too, along with beavers, muskrats, deer, foxes, raccoons, opossums, groundhogs, and other four-legged animals.’
Early 17th century: from Virginia Algonquian opassom, from op ‘white’ + assom ‘dog’.
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