Opossum vs. possum — Janya’s student essay

Opossum Vs. Possum

Opossum and possum are from two different animal groups and yet are commonly used interchangeably. Many people commonly confuse the two animals and don’t realize that they both serve their own purpose. These animals are commonly known for being found in attics and trash cans looking for food to eat. However, these two animals are found in two different regions of the world and do not look the same physically. Therefore, it is important to understand that though they share similarities, there are key differences that set them apart.

Possums are commonly found in Great Britain located on the western coast of Europe. The key difference that sets it apart is that their ears are much larger than that of an Opossum. Their fur also ranges in colors such as silver gray, gray, gold, and black. Also, the fur of its tail has a thicker and bushier appearance than that of an opossum. 

Possums are also called Brushtail because of its distinctive bushy tail. It is easy to distinct Possums from Opossums from the physical traits that they have.

Opossums are found in the United States and were first identified in 1610 and were called Apossouns. The distinctive trait that sets it apart from possums is that it has a bare, rat-like tail. This is completely different from Possums because possums have a bushier tail.


Opossums are also important in the way it keeps away pests in gardens. If found in your garden, there’s no reason to be alarmed as Opossums isn’t harmful to humans. It is rare to find that they carry rabies, and can hold viruses that can only affect horses and chickens.

There are many differences between the opossum and possum, however, they share few similarities. Both animals are members of the marsupial family, which means that the young ones are raised in pouches. 

Another similarity they share is that when they are frightened, they have a defense mechanism where they play dead. When they play dead, it appears that there are dead but in reality, there are in a shock state. 

Additionally, both animals share some similarities when it comes to their diets. They are both omnivores and so their diets can range from eating bird eggs, leaves, and seeds. They also eat meat from animals and insects. They are not picky eaters which is the reason why they are mostly found in areas that have food.

In conclusion, there are many differences and similarities that Opossum and Possum shares. These similarities include having diets that consist of meat, insects, and leaves. They also belong to the same family called the Marsupials. A great way to distinguish the two animals is by looking at their physical appearance. Opossums tails are barer while possums tails are bushy. Also, the ears of the Possums appears much larger than that of the opossums. Now that the features of the two animals have been distinguished, it is important to know that these two animals are different. Their names aren’t interchangeable and is important to not misidentify them.

Author: Janya Jean-Bon

Florida Atlantic University

Works Cited

  • Explained, Writing. “Opossum vs. Possum – What’s the Difference?” Opaanew, Opossum Awareness & Advocacy | Opossums Are Awesome, 26 Nov. 2017,  


Student Scholarships

Every year Thrive Pest Control hosts an essay contest and the reward is a 1-year scholarship at a 4-year university in the United States. This blog post is one of those scholarships.