April 2018, Wildlife Report

April, 2018 Wildlife Report

In April the Mercer County Wildlife Center accepted the following 181 animals for rehabilitation:

60  Eastern cottontail

47  Eastern gray squirrel

10  Virginia opossum

  5  Canada goose

  4  Mallard

  4  Mourning dove

  4  Red fox

  3  Tree swallow

  3  Red-tailed hawk

  3  Common raccoon

  2  Great horned owl

  2  Rock dove

  2  White-footed mouse

  1  Black vulture

  1  Cooper's hawk

  1  Eastern screech-owl

  1  American crow

  1  Herring gull

  1  Yellow-bellied sapsucker

  1  Common grackle

  1  Cedar waxwing

  1  American robin

  1  American woodcock

  1  Turkey vulture

  1  Horned grebe

  1  Big brown bat

  1  Eastern milk snake

  1  Common musk turtle

  1  Eastern box turtle  

  

Animal Ambassadors used in educational programming:

 

Big brown bats

Red tailed hawk

Northern saw whet owl

Eastern screech owl

American kestrel

Striped skunk

Virginia opossum

"Getting to know your local wildlife..."

VIRGINIA OPOSSUM

Opossums have a prehensile (adapted for grasping – not hanging) tail and an opposable (capable of being placed opposite) thumb and big toe, both unique among our native mammals.  Their young are born only 13 days after fertilization, crawl into the mother's pouch where they latch onto nipples, and continue their development for another two months.  They have 50 teeth, more than twice the number of most other mammals.

When an opossum is in danger, it will first hiss and growl, lunge at a predator, and then try to escape by running or climbing a tree.  In those few cases where it is trapped, the opossum instinctively falls down on its side with its mouth slightly open; it may also drool, defecate, and give off a bad smell, making itself very unattractive to a predator.  This state may last a few minutes or several hours, but the opossum seems to snap out of it as rapidly as it fell into it.  Since the action is an instinctive response, the opossum is not consciously controlling it.   So it is not "playing possum."

The opossum is grayish in the north and black in the south. It is 15 to 20 inches long, excluding tail, and weighs from 4 to 14 pounds.  Opossums are active at night (nocturnal).  During the day they sleep in dens or other protected spots.  They are nomadic and  tend to shift dens frequently.  Seventy-five percent of the time they use a den for only one night before moving on, though there are times when the opossum may use the same den for 20 to 30 days.  Opossums may even share dens with other animals such as rabbits, skunks, and woodchucks.

Male opossums are aggressive toward other males but not toward females.     Non-estrous females are generally aggressive toward estrous (in heat) females.  During mating the male bites the fur on the female's neck and then climbs onto her back. At this point both topple over to the right, and copulation takes place.  It has been found that they almost always fall to the right.  If for some reason they fall to the left or remain standing, copulation is less likely to be successful.  Gestation of the young lasts only 12 to 13 days, at which point each baby is about   ½ inch long and weights the merest fraction of an ounce.  There is an average of 6 to 10 young in a litter.  In about 2 weeks they are weaned, and in another 3 to 4 weeks they are independent.

Help Us Save Wild...To Donate Please Click Below:

Wildlife Center Friends, Inc., PO Box 161, 1748 River Road, Titusville, NJ 08560

Mercer County Wildlife Center

609-303-0552

Location:  Rt. 29; 3.2 miles north of the Titusville Fire Station