All about the opossum tail and what it is used for
The opossum is the most unusual animal in North America because it is the only marsupial. Much like the kangaroo, when babies are born they live inside the pouch of the opossum until they are old enough to be able to head out on their own. This is a very unique feature to all other naturally occurring animals in North America.
Another thing that makes them quite different from many other animals is that they love to live in trees much like a squirrel. It is for this reason that many think that they are rodents, like squirrels, but that is not the case at all. While preferring to live in the dens of other animals that are made in the ground, they will live in trees and have no issues with making a squirrels nest their own home.
The tail of this animal acts as a stabilizing mechanism as the opossum is climbing up trees. This helps it maintain balance, not only as it is climbing trees, but also as it is walking along the branches. It does not matter whether you are talking about moving up a tree or up a stalk of corn or wheat; the tail plays a big part in keeping it balanced while moving up and down.
One of myths related to the opossum is that they hang by their tails from the trees. Many depictions of this animal show it with its tail wrapped around a branch as it hands there sleeping. While it may make a nice cartoon caricature, this is as far from the truth as it gets.
The animal may do this briefly when it is young. In fact, a baby possum can hang from a tree branch by its tail, but only for about two seconds. It must be understood that the weight of the animal is far too much to be able to support the weight for any length of time and, in an adult opossum, the tail cannot support the weight at all. If it tried to hang from the branch all it would do is pull the tail completely off! Clearly that is not an acceptable thing for it to do.
The hanging opossum makes for a nice story, but it is not the reality at all. This animal primarily uses its tail to help it to maintain balance, but is not like a bat hanging upside down while its tail holds it from falling to the ground below. That makes for a nice cartoon idea, but it is not reality. In fact, it is not really understood how this idea even evolved, unless it came from the fact that baby opossums will do this briefly.
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