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November 23, 2010

Are Opossums Playing Dead?

Are Opossums Playing Dead?
-(Shocking Nature News)-
-http://juiciejulz.blogspot.com/2008/06/fun-nature-facts.html 
and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opossum -

When opossums are playing opossum, they are not "playing." They actually pass out from sheer terror.


Opossums have a remarkably robust immune system, and show partial or total immunity to the venom of rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and other pit vipers.Opossums are about eight times less likely to carry rabies than wild dogs, and about one in eight hundred opossums are infected with this virus

Their unspecialized biology, flexible diet and reproductive strategy make them successful colonizers and survivors in diverse locations and conditions.

A baby opossum
When threatened or harmed, they will "play opossum", mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. When playing possum, the lips are drawn back, teeth are bared, saliva foams around the mouth, and a foul-smelling fluid is secreted from the anal glands. The physiological response is involuntary, rather than a conscious act. Their stiff, curled form can be prodded, turned over, and even carried away. The animal will regain consciousness after a period of minutes or hours and escape.

Picture taken from http://thundafunda.com/393/?level=picture&id=2528 and http://hiox.org/3790-north-american.php

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