What is an opossum's mating habits, when do they have babies, how do they raise their young?

Tennessee opossums are marsupial animals that belong to the order Marsupialia. This means that they are in a similar class to the koalas and kangaroos of Australia. The opossums will give birth to a live baby. This baby will then be nursed for a period of time.

Breeding Season
Usually, the opossum’s breeding season starts at spring. This is around January or February when it is not too cold to hunt for food and for mates. While they are foraging during nighttimes, a male opossum might be able to smell a female opossum in heat. If the female will not get pregnant after three days from the day of the mating, she searches for another male to mate. Chattanooga opossums are usually solitary animals. The exception is when a female just gave birth to their young ones. You can see female opossums carrying her children on her back if they are about 6 weeks old. You have to approach them with caution or leave them alone. Female opossums can be territorial in nature and will attack if they feel threatened.

The Female Chattanooga Opossum’s Gestation Period
Gestation period usually lasts for about 12-15 days. This means that the opossum can give birth to their young after about 15 days from the date of mating. Opossums just produce about 1-2 liters a year. There are some rare cases that they give birth thrice a year in some Southern part of the United States.

What’s Next After the Babies are Born?
The number of babies that a female opossum can produce is about 17-20 per liter and this can vary. Out of the 17 – 20 babies, about 12 – 13 only survive. The babies are about the size of a grain of rice when they are first born. They are still blind during this time and should scramble from their mother’s tail to the safety of her pouch. The babies should find a nipple and attach themselves to it. The youngsters that were left out will perish.

Raising Period
The babies will remain on their mother’s pouch for 2-3 months. At that time, they are already about 70 days old and they began to open their eyes little by little. For opossums that are about 2 months old, they are still dependent on their mother’s milk as their primary source of food. Baby opossums can climb on their mother’s back and cling to it while their mother forages for food. Some babies will try to explore the environment near their mother and will climb back to her if she moves to another place. The babies began having ideas on how to avoid predators and will go to the best places where they can find food sources.

Grown Up Opossums
In about 4-5 months, the mother opossum will start to wean her grown infants. At this time the babies are about 7-8 inches in length and they already acquired the ability to go out on their own. They can hunt on their own and the mother might search for another mate again.

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