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Mississippi State University

Opossum (Didelphis virginianus)

Home Range and Habitat Use


Male opossums maintained an average composite home range of 102 ha, whereas female home ranges averaged 72.5 ha. Similarly, males maintained larger composite core areas (61.1 ha) than females (8.1 ha). Habitat composition within opossum home ranges was similar (P = 0.940) to the availability of habitats across the study area. Additionally, opossums did not use areas within home ranges (P = 0.840) or core areas (P = 0.380) differently than the availability of habitats within those regions. Opossums generally avoided pole and regeneration areas, as well as old field habitats.


Opossums used mature bottomland hardwood stands and sapling-size mixed forest stands greater than their availability and used pasture habitats and pole-size pine stands less than their availability. These findings are consistent with other studies in the southeastern United States. Within core areas, opossums used mature pine stands and pole-size pine stands greater than their availability and used regenerating pine stands and old field habitats less than their availability. Differences between habitat selection at the home range and core area levels suggest that opossums may select habitats differently at these scales.