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Which One is Correct Opossum vs Possum ?

opossum vs possum

Both “opossum” and “possum” are correct spellings, but they refer to different animals.

“Opossum” is the correct spelling for the marsupial native to North and South America. It is often referred to simply as “possum,” but “opossum” is the more accurate and widely accepted spelling.

Also Read:- Which one is Correct? Bingeing or Binging

“Possum” is a common misspelling of “opossum,” but it can also refer to a different animal, the brushtail possum, which is native to Australia.

In summary, “opossum” refers to the marsupial found in North and South America, while “possum” refers to the brushtail possum found in Australia.

Opossums and possums: what are they?

Possums and kangaroos are both marsupials, however possums are more closely related to them. But this is where it gets confusing: in North America, when referring to the animals that roam around backyards at night, people frequently reduce opossum to possum.

One news source described an animal that you would see “scurrying down the sidewalk with a batch of babies holding onto its back” or “wobbling through your yard at night.” What kind of animal is this? You might exclaim, “An opossum!” without thinking twice. Someone else might refer to it as a possum, nevertheless. What distinguishes an opossum from a possum? I’d say there is. They are totally separate species of animals.

Possum vs. opossum

The animal officially referred to as an opossum in North America is a white and grey marsupial belonging to the Didelphimorphia order. The name was borrowed by English colonists in Jamestown from the Virginia Algonquian tribe’s language of Powhatan. The Powhatan phrase literally translates to “white dog or beast.” William Strachey spelled it “aposoum,” although John Smith spelled it “opassum.”

On the other side, possums are found in China, Australia, New Guinea, Sulawesi, and New Zealand. They do get their name from opossum. They were given the name “opossum” by British botanist Sir Joseph Banks because he believed they resembled the American opossum sufficiently. However, American opossums and other marsupials are distant relatives of kangaroos and other Australian marsupials. Possums are members of the order Diprotodontia.

When should I utilise opossum?

Opossum is a broad term that can be used to describe the American marsupial. In the quotes that follow, you’ll see how various authors drew on the characteristics of this intriguing creature. The first comes from Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. He mentions the peculiar propensity of the North American opossum to faint as if dead when threatened, so you know he’s talking about that animal.

What’s the Difference Between Possum and Opossum?

The main difference between “possum” and “opossum” is that they refer to different animals.

“Opossum” is the correct spelling for the marsupial native to North and South America. It is often referred to simply as “possum,” but “opossum” is the more accurate and widely accepted spelling. These marsupials have a pointed snout, sharp teeth, and a long, hairless tail.

“Possum” is a common misspelling of “opossum,” but it can also refer to a different animal, the brushtail possum, which is native to Australia. Brushtail possums are marsupials too, but they are more closely related to the kangaroos and wallabies and have a rounder snout and more fur on their tail.

In summary, “opossum” refers to the marsupial found in North and South America, while “possum” refers to the brushtail possum found in Australia.

Features of the Possum

The brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) is a marsupial native to Australia. It has a number of distinct features, including:

  • Size: Brushtail possums are relatively small animals, typically measuring around 40-60 cm in length, not including the tail which can be an additional 30-40 cm. They can weigh between 1-4 kg.
  • Fur: They have thick, soft fur that varies in color from gray to black. They have a white or cream-colored underbelly.
  • Tail: Their tail is thick and bushy, with a prehensile ability, which means it can grasp or hold onto things. They use their tail to balance when moving through trees and to hold onto branches.
  • Ears: They have large, round ears which are furless on the outside.
  • Face: They have a round snout and small, sharp teeth. They have large, reflective eyes that help them see in the dark.
  • Behavior: Brushtail possums are nocturnal, they are active at night. They are arboreal and spend most of their time in trees. They are herbivores and feed mostly on leaves, flowers, and fruits. They are also known to be good climbers and swimmers.
  • Habitat: Brushtail possums are found throughout mainland Australia and in some parts of Tasmania. They are found in a variety of habitats including forests, woodlands, and urban areas.

Because there are lots of words beginning with opp in English, writers can often confuse the spelling of opossum. Common errors might include:

  • Opposum
  • Oppossum
  • Opussum
  • Oposum

All of them are false and have no English-language meaning. Opossum is the correct term; nevertheless, it should not be confused with the Australian possum, which lives in trees.

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