How to Tell if an Opossum is Male or Female?

It is important to know whether or not you're dealing with a male or female wild animal invasion, because a female one will come with its fair share of extra responsibilities. In the case of the humble opossum, these responsibilities might come in the form of 15-20 joeys, also known as young opossums. 

Telling male from female opossums is not easy, and is actually probably pretty impossible to the average homeowner who has limited knowledge of wild critters. Even some experts have a hard time gendering wild animals. This doesn't make your life easier, of course; you want to know whether or not that opossum is a mother, because if she is, there's a chance you have a nest of babies to find and remove too. The fathers don't stick around long to care for the youngsters, so male opossums can be easily removed on their own. 

In reality, you won't be able to easy tell the difference between male and female opossums, although female opossums will have visible signs when you get up close and personal, such as nipples and perhaps even a bunch of babies literally hanging on. Females have pouches and the joeys will live in there for a few months after they are born, so a misshapen or overly large opossum could just be one who is carrying her little joey-loads. 

Opossums do carry their young around a lot, but there are also times when they will be left in the nest. If the mother needs to find food for her young, but fears taking them out with her because of predators, she will leave them behind while she seeks to feed and hydrate herself. She may even look for a safer nesting spot while she's there. She will always go back to her joeys, however, and she'll take them with her to a new nesting spot. The whole point of having 15-20 babies in the first place is to ensure at least a few of them survive. She's certainly not going to go through all of that just to leave them behind when things get tough. 

You should treat every opossum you encounter as though it is female, even when it is a male. You should assume that there is a nest in the attic or on your property somewhere, and you should go looking for it. There are certain places that are likely to be opossum nest spots, and these are the places you should investigate and target first, but a good inspection of the overall property, inside and outside, will soon give the game away. If you see signs of an opossum invasion, such as waste material or food remnants, you can take the next step - finding them to then remove them. If you do not, you are lucky, but that doesn't mean you are safe. You should still make sure that all holes are sealed and all food sources have been thoroughly cleaned away. Preventing these critters from coming in in the first place will go a very long way to protecting your humble home. 

Go back to the home page.