Learning to climb trees is an important part of a young Virginia opossum’s education. Virginia opossums live in trees and need to move fast from one branch to another when threatened.
The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a marsupial of North America and was named in 1610. The word opossum was borrowed from a native American language in the form aposoum, meaning ‘white dog’ or ‘white beast/animal’.
Do not confuse North America’s opossum with the possum of Australia. Possums are Australian fauna of the suborder Phalangeriformes, which include about 70 small to medium-sized arboreal marsupial species native to Australia, New Guinea and Sulawesi (and introduced to New Zealand and China).