Do Baby Possums Play Dead? Discover the Truth.

Yes, baby possums play dead as a defense mechanism. Baby possums, also known as joeys, are born as tiny and helpless creatures that are unable to fend for themselves.

Thus, playing dead serves as their ultimate survival tactic when they are faced with imminent danger. When a threat is detected, the baby possum will fall to the ground, stiffen up, and emit a putrid smell from their anal glands, portraying themselves as unappetizing to predators.

This plays an important role on the ecological balance of the environment as possums are prey to many species and their babies are particularly more vulnerable. So, in a sense, playing dead is the baby possums’ way of staying alive. In the following content, we will take a deeper look into the behavior of baby possums and their unique characteristics as marsupials.

Possums 101

Do baby possums really play dead? Possums are nocturnal marsupials, identifiable by their pointy noses and rat-like tails. These creatures are often misunderstood, but are actually quite interesting! Possums have a unique defense mechanism: when they feel threatened, they will play dead by lying down on their side, sticking their tongue out, and emitting a foul odor.

However, this behavior is actually an involuntary response and not a conscious decision. In addition to playing dead, possums also have other interesting physical characteristics such as opposable thumbs and prehensile tails that help them navigate their environment. Overall, possums are fascinating creatures that, despite their reputation, are valuable members of the ecosystem.

Playing Dead – A Survival Tactic

Playing dead is a survival tactic that possums use to avoid predators. This behavior isn’t unique to possums, but they’re famous for it. Evolutionary pressure built up over millions of years has led to the development of this behavior in animals.

Playing dead allows possums to appear lifeless, avoiding detection by predators. They can stay in this state for hours, sometimes even days. Playing dead comes with risks, though. Possums are vulnerable during this time and cannot protect themselves. Nonetheless, the benefits outweigh the risks, and possums continue to use this survival technique.

Understanding the science behind this behavior helps us appreciate the wonders of the natural world and reminds us of the importance of preserving it.

Baby Possums – Can They Play Dead?

Baby possums are known for their ability to play dead when threatened. This behavior has been observed in both adult and juvenile possums. However, it is commonly believed that baby possums don’t play dead until they reach a certain age.

According to scientific studies, baby possums can start playing dead as early as two months old. As for their development and behavior, baby possums are born blind and deaf and rely on their sense of smell to find their mother’s pouch.

They will stay in the pouch for around two to three months before coming out and exploring their surroundings. As they grow older, they will become more independent and start to venture out on their own.

Baby Possums Vs Adult Possums – Similarities And Differences

Baby possums and adult possums may look similar, but there are key differences in their size, behavior, and development. While adult possums can grow up to 40 inches in length and weigh up to 14 pounds, baby possums are much smaller and lighter.

These young creatures are also more dependent on their mothers for survival and take longer to develop. Another notable difference is how they respond to threats. While adult possums will play dead to deter predators, baby possums are less likely to do so.

This could be due to their immature nervous system and lack of experience in dangerous situations. Overall, it’s important to understand these differences to appreciate the unique characteristics of both baby and adult possums.

Myths Surrounding Baby Possums Playing Dead

There are many myths surrounding baby possums playing dead. One of the most common misconceptions is that baby possums play dead as a defense mechanism. However, this is not entirely true. Possums in general, both adult and baby, have the ability to play dead when they feel threatened.

This behavior is called “playing possum” and it involves pretending to be dead or unconscious in order to avoid being attacked by predators. Another common myth is that possums only play dead when they are in danger. In reality, possums can also play dead as a way to avoid conflict with other possums.

So, while it is true that baby possums can play dead, it is important to understand the reasons why they do so, in order to have a more accurate understanding of their behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions On Do Baby Possums Play Dead

Do Baby Possums Play Dead When Scared?

Yes, baby possums have a natural defense mechanism where they play dead to protect themselves when they feel threatened or scared. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that helps them survive in the wild.

How Long Do Baby Possums Play Dead?

Baby possums typically stay motionless and play dead for only a few minutes to a few hours until they sense that the danger has passed. Once they feel safe, they will slowly regain consciousness and continue with their normal activities.

How Often Do Baby Possums Play Dead?

Baby possums will play dead whenever they feel that they are in danger. Their natural instincts tell them to use this defense mechanism to protect themselves. However, they don’t play dead as often as adult possums.

How Can You Tell If A Baby Possum Is Playing Dead Or Is Dead?

When a baby possum is playing dead, its body will become stiff, and it will emit a foul odor from its scent glands. However, if the possum is dead, its body will be cold and stiff, and there will be no visible signs of breathing or movement.

Can Baby Possums Play Dead Anytime?

Yes, baby possums can play dead anytime they feel threatened or scared. They instinctively know when to use this survival technique and when it’s safe to come out of their unconscious state.


Baby possums may play dead when threatened by predators. This act of self-defense is their natural response to protect themselves from harm. While it may seem like a strange behavior, it is essential for their survival in the wild. As possums grow older, they tend to rely on other defense mechanisms, such as running away or biting, instead of playing dead.

Understanding animal behaviors helps us appreciate nature’s beauty and biodiversity, and respecting them is essential for a sustainable environment. If you happen to encounter a baby possum, observe from a distance and let it be. They are unique creatures with fascinating habits that should be appreciated and not disturbed.

With this information, we hope that you have a better understanding of the possum’s behavior and how you can better protect them in their natural habitat.

Share Via

Leave a Comment