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jerry jackson
Photographed by Bette Jackson

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Source: Opossums 3

Length of Segment: 00:01:15

Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Although Virginia opossums are slow moving and short lived, they have thrived in the modern world. The reasons for their success reflects some of their behavior and ecology. Although our opossums don't hibernate, they can survive cold winter weather by crawling into tree cavities, under buildings, or other sheltered places. Cold weather does take a toll, however. If you take a close look at a Florida opossum's ears, you'll find they're bare and rounded, black at the base but pink along the outer edges. If you examine an opossum from a northern area, you may find that its ears are short, black, and scalloped in appearance. This is not the way it was born, however. The black pigment helps the opossum retain body heat. The pink lobes, however, often freeze solid and fall off, leaving this scalloped appearance. Opossums were once limited to warmer areas, perhaps primarily because of the lack of food in winter. Because of human garbage and pet foods that are readily available in suburbia, they've been able to expand their range north into Canada. The Virginia opossum is not a picky eater, it's what we call an 'omnivore'. It will eat almost anything.

'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.

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