Opossums vs. Possums

Even though the names are often used interchangeably, this is incorrect. Despite the names sounding the same, opossums and possums only have one thing in common. They’re both marsupials.



  • Are in the mammal family
  • Warm blooded
  • Feed their babies milk
  • Babies are born very early (the size of a grain of rice) they finish up their gestation period inside their mother’s pouch where they nurse.



  • Are found in North America
  • Has a bare prehensile tail
  • Pointed snot with a pink nose
  • Fur is coarse, can be black, white and grey.


  • Are found in Australia and New Guinea
  • Has a fury prehensile tail
  • Rounder furry face
  • Fur is soft, auburn, brown or grey

As you can see, even physically, Opossums and Possums have many differences. So why such similar names?

Possums got their name from ecologist Sir Joseph Banks, who traveled with Captain Cook to Australia, who mistakenly assumed they belonged to the same family! But that’s like saying that a bat is the same family as a butterfly because they both have wings!

Keep Exploring Defenders!