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Marsupial

Virginia Opossom

See also: Opossums (Encyclopedia of North Carolina); Slow Poke the Possum; Heidi the Cross-Eyed Opossum

"Virginia Opossum." Photo by NC Wildlife Resources Commission.Session Law 2013-189, signed June 26, 2013, gave North Carolina the following state symbols: state fossil, state frog, state salamander, state marsupial, state folk art, and state art medium.

Excerpt from Session Law 2013-189, House Bill 830:

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is native to North Carolina and is the only marsupial found in North America; the female carries its underdeveloped young in a pouch until they are capable of living independently, similar to a kangaroo; and

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is one of the oldest and most primitive species of mammal found in North America; and

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is about the size of a large house cat with a triangular head; a long pointed nose; dark eyes; a long, scaly, prehensile tail; and short, black, leathery ears; and

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is nocturnal and lives in a wide variety of habitats, including deciduous forests, open woods, and farmland but prefers wet areas such as marshes, swamps, and streams...

§ 145‑44.  State marsupial.
The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is adopted as the official marsupial of the State of North Carolina.

NC Wildlife Resources Commission. 2013. "Gov. Pat McCrory signs HB 830, making the Pine Barrens treefrog and marbled salamander the official state frog and salamander, and making the Virginia opossum the official state marsupial."

Additional Resources:

Sumner, Perry W. "Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana)." North Carolina Wild. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Learning/documents/Profiles/opossumvirginia.pdf. Accessed 6/29/2013.

Image credits:

NC Wildlife Resources Commission. "Virginia Opossum." https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=474317245988919&set=pb.169986143088699.-2207520000.1372511503. Accessed 6/29/2013.

NC Wildlife Resources Commission. 2013. "Gov. Pat McCrory signs HB 830, making the Pine Barrens treefrog and marbled salamander the official state frog and salamander, and making the Virginia opossum the official state marsupial." https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=474317242655586&set=a.4743169126.... Accessed 6/29/2013.

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Comment: 

it is not bad but could be beter

Comment: 

Thanks for asking this great question!  

The best answer we can give is that the Virginia legislature has yet to officially recognize this delightful native critter.  

More seriously, the Virginia Opposum, despite its name, is the only marsupial found in North America, not an animal with special ties to Virginia. There is some evidence or at least the existence of a story that the name "opossum" may have been used or coined by Captain John Smith from a word used by the Algonquin Indians. In any event, the possum existed and was recognized by native peoples long before European settlers may have attached "Virginia" to its name.

Thanks for visiting NCpedia!

Kelly Agan, NCpedia Staff

Comment: 

Why is the Virginia opossum the North Carolina marsupial and not Virginia's marsupial?

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