Mammals of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Virginia Opossum - Didelphis virginiana
Sole representative of Didelphidae in NC
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Photo by: Mark Shields
Distribution In NC, it occurs statewide, and undoubtedly occurs in all 100 counties. It might be absent on a few barrier islands, and in the highest mountains.

Occurs throughout the eastern 60% of the United States, and adjacent southern Canada, far southward into the Neotropics.
Abundance Essentially abundant nearly across the state, but less common in the higher mountains and on some islands. It does occur on the Outer Banks and is numerous in the Buxton Woods area. Note that the iNaturalist website contains photos for more than half of the state's counties, and the editors have not taken the time to update the map with "Photo" records/documentation unless the county had previously no known records (white on the map).
Seasonal Occurrence Active year-round.
Habitat Occurs over a very wide range of habitats, favoring forested areas, more so in bottomlands than in overly dry sites; areas near fresh water are preferred. It prefers open woods, or near forest edges, and it forages in forests as well as in a variety of fields, brushy places, residential areas, and other habitats at night. It is often common in wooded suburban areas.
See also Habitat Account for General Mixed Habitats
Behavior Essentially nocturnal in activity, rarely active by day in the winter months. They climb fairly well, and spend some time in trees, mainly to escape. Nests are typically in burrows in the ground, under rocks, or in hollow logs, but they can be inside hollow trees or in knotholes in live trees. They often raid suburban yards at night, going after garbage and other food items.
Comments This is the only marsupial in the United States, and thus is unique from that aspect. Large numbers are killed by vehicles on roads at night, seemingly not even causing a dent in the very large population of the species. Though they can be hard to see in forested areas, as they are essentially nocturnal, homeowners can often spot them in their yards at night, especially where the yard is well-lit, and there is some food available for the opossums.
Origin Native
NC List Official
State Rank S5
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
subspecies Didelphis virginiana virginiana
other_comName Opossum
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all database records for species in that county.