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Difference between Opossum and Possum

Opossum and possum both are marsupials with similar-looking snouts, feet and eyes. Both are omnivorous with similar diets. Despite these similarities, they are different from each other. Let us see how opossum differs from possum!


The Opossum is a marsupial mammal with a white face and grayish-white body, mostly found in North America. It belongs to the order, Didelphidae. Opossums have a distinguishable long snout, narrow brain case or skull and a prominent chest. They have sharp teeth like a cat and a bare, rat-like tail. People generally consider opossum an ugly and scary creature and are not willing to see it in their backyard or surroundings.

Opossums are intelligent animals as they can find their food more quickly than rats and cats. They are also skilled colonizers and survivors as they can survive in diverse climatic conditions. They are carnivorous, i.e. their diet includes grass, buds, flowers, fungi, ferns, fruits, insects and eggs. They are not social animals as they tend to live a solitary life. They are not burrowing animals and like to live on trees. Female opossums generally have two breeding cycles in a year.


Possums, which are also known as Phalangeriformes, are native to Australia. The name possum is derived from the American opossums as both look alike. They belong to order, Diprotodontia. They are distinguished by their flat, round face with a small snout and eyes towards the front. They have sharp claws suitable for arboreal lifestyle and a tail that is bushy and mostly black in colour.

Possums are small tree-dwelling marsupials. They are nocturnal so they are active at night and stay in abandoned burrows. They are omnivorous animals as they can feed on flowers, grass, fungi, fern, insects, eggs etc. Their eyesight and hearing power are not much strong but they have a strong sense of smell that helps them escape from the dangers.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between opossum and possum are as follows:

Opossum Possum
It is a tree-dwelling marsupial found in North America. It is a tree-dwelling marsupial found in Australia and surrounding islands.
It belongs to the order, Didelphidae. It belongs to the order, Diprotodontia.
They are comparatively smaller than a possum, e.g. 3 to 22 inches in length. They are comparatively larger than an opossum, e.g. 3 inches to 4 feet in length.
They weigh from 1 to 11 pounds. They weight from 6 ounces to 32 pounds.
They have a long snout. They have a small snout.
It has a bare, rat-like tail. It has a bushy tail that is mostly black in colour.
It has an elongated face with a long snout. It has a long and round face.
It mostly prefers colder climatic conditions with ice and snow. It mostly prefers subtropical climatic conditions.
They are scary-looking animals. They are less scary-looking than the opossum.
They generally have a white face with a grayish-white body. They have more diverse colours than opossum such as black, chinchilla gray, silver-gray and gold.
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