Didelphis virginiana


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Didelphis virginiana
Species Authority: Kerr, 1792
Common Name(s):
English Virginia Opossum
French Sarigue De Virginie

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Cuarón, A.D., Emmons, L., Helgen, K., Reid, F., Lew, D., Patterson, B., Delgado, C. & Solari, S.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
A widespread and common species throughout its range, and is adaptable to human dominated landscapes. Although hunted or trapped locally for food, sport and as predators of poultry, the species has not been adversely affected by human settlement, in fact its range appears to be expanding. Commercial hunting for the fur trade does not appear to have much impact.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found in Central America, from Costa Rica to Mexico and in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, and north into southwestern Ontario, Canada. Some populations are also found along the west coast of the United States. Their range, limited by winter temperatures and snow depth, appears to be expanding northwards (Gardner, 2005).This species can be found from lowlands to 3,000 m (Reid, 1997).
Belize; Canada (Ontario); Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: D. virginiana is common and widespread.
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is found in a variety of habitats, ranging from relatively arid to mesic environments. They prefer wet areas, however, especially woodlands and thickets near streams and swamps. Also in suburban areas. The opportunistic denning and feeding habits of the Virginia opossum has led to the success of the species, especially in areas of habitat fragmentation. High reproductive potential further contributes to increasing population size (McManus, 1974). Abandoned burrows, buildings, hollow logs, and tree cavities are generally used for den sites.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species. Opossums are hunted and trapped for food and fur in certain areas of their range, but the majority of mortality is caused by collision with motor vehicles (Gardner, 2005).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no specific measures in place to protect the Virginia opposum, it likely occurs in a number of protected areas throughout its range.

Bibliography [top]

Gardner, A. L. 2005. Order Didelphimorphia. In: D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World, pp. 3-18. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Mcmanus, J. J. 1974. Didelphis virginiana. Mammalian Species 40: 1-6.

Nowak, R.M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA and London, UK.

Reid, F. 1997. A field guide to the mammals of Central America and southeast Mexico. Oxford University Press, New York, USA.

Citation: Cuarón, A.D., Emmons, L., Helgen, K., Reid, F., Lew, D., Patterson, B., Delgado, C. & Solari, S. 2008. Didelphis virginiana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 31 March 2015.
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