Most mammals that you encounter have a very common mating habit and method to the way in which they raise their young. The bear, the dog, the lion, and the beaver all have very similar methods in how they raise their young and how the whole mating process takes place.
However, there are animals that have a unique way about raising their young, and that is a class known as the marsupials. This includes the platypus, but also includes the opossum, an animal that is quite common in North America.
Marsupials have two different interesting phases in the reproductive cycle. That is the uterus and marsupium phases. The uterus stage is when the babies are inside the mother, connected to the uterus, but after they are born, they climb into the mother’s pouch until they are ready to go out on their own.
The reproductive cycle is one that many myths have developed from. There was once a belief that the male impregnated the female through her nose. The young were then sneezed out and entered into her pouch. How that idea got started is quite amusing. Many had seen that there would be no babies in the pouch one day, and then many the next. They would also see the mother sniffing inside the pouch, and this would often cause her to sneeze. That led to the belief.
What was not understood is that the mother cleans the pouch just prior to giving birth. She will lick the area and clean the teats well. This can lead to her sneezing as she gets germs and dirt in her mouth and nose.
Another part that makes the opossum so different is in how the male’s sperm forms. Sperms actually form, and travel together in pairs. When ejaculation happens the sperm continue to travel as pairs up the female reproductive tract. This is quite different even from other marsupials. It is believed that traveling in pairs makes the sperm more resilient.
The breeding period for the opossum is quite long. It actually begins in December and can last up until October. A female can have as many as three litters in one year’s period of time, and the male can impregnate several females.
The male attracts the female by making an unusual clicking sound. This attracts the female during her ovulation period, which usually lasts for about 36 hours at a time. After mating the babies remain inside their mother for between 11 and 13 days. The mother can give birth to as many as 20 babies, but it is usually no more than 9. The babies then enter the pouch, where there are 13 teats. They stay there for between 55 and 70 days before they are ready to go off on their own.
Read more: Opossum Control
, How to Get Rid of Opossums
, Opossum Feces