Dec 06 2012

On Teeth

Published by at 7:20 am under Mammals

Adult human adults have 32 teeth -- if none have been extracted.

Opossums have 50 teeth!

Possums (Didelphis virginiana) are small mammals with little mouths but they're loaded with teeth.

What could they possibly be chewing that they need 50 of them?

Imagine their dental bills!   😉


(photo from Shutterstock)

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “On Teeth”

  1. Kathy Detweileron 06 Dec 2012 at 8:24 am

    I love all creatures, Opossums are scary critters though. They use to come up on my porch and eat the cat food out of the bowl, when I would look out the door at them they would hiss and show all of those 50 teeth! 🙂

  2. Marcy Con 06 Dec 2012 at 7:12 pm

    What’s really cool is when they play dead, right in front of you….tongue out, glazed eyes, frozen and doesn’t move for 15 or 20 minutes, slobber coming out of it’s mouth…I have seen this a couple of times…it’s very bizarre to see….I don’t mind having them around, since they are great cleaner-uppers below the feeders and they don’t ruin the feeders like raccoons. It’s really interesting to see their tracks in the snow in the winter with their tail dragging in the snow and their cool paw prints….I would love to see some ‘possum babies… so ugly, they are cute….only a mama would love…(or me).

  3. sharonon 07 Dec 2012 at 8:29 am

    Hope the link works …. I volunteer at the Pgh Zoo and for the past 4 months I’ve been working with our resident education opossum – Gretel.

    The “playing possum” is actually a semi-comatose state. The slobber and facial looks are to imitate a dead animal and actually the also emit a slime that smells like carrion (but it is easy to wash off as I’ve found out).

    They are very quiet animals and only hiss when they are corned or startled. They are omnivores so Marcy is right … they are great cleaner-uppers. They need those 50-52 teeth to enable them to eat anything e.g. crunch through bones, insect shells, nuts etc. The jaw muscle actually runs up behind the eye to the top of their forehead … this gives them extra chomping power.

    They are also very smart animals .. as smart as a cat .. but unfortunately do not live very long. The average is 2 yrs in the wild and 5-6 in captivity. Gretel has shown this intelligence through the training I’ve been giving her e.g. recognizing her name, the word “NO”, sitting up for treats, finding hidden treats etc etc.

    The picture shows an unkempt possum and this is unusual. They actually groom themselves more than a cat does.

    I could go on and on but, if the link works, I’ll let my pics and vids speak for themselves.

  4. sharonon 07 Dec 2012 at 8:33 am

    P.S. In the pics the sack she is in is a sleeping bag that was made for her and when she’s baring her teeth it’s actually a yawn ….. the girl really has it rough at the zoo (insert eye roll here)

  5. Geneon 07 Dec 2012 at 8:54 am

    Wait a minute! 50 is not divisible by four. That means they have more teeth on the bottom or top. Which is it?


  6. Kate St. Johnon 07 Dec 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Opossums have 26 upper teeth and 24 lower teeth… That’s how they have 50. Weird but true.

  7. sharonon 07 Dec 2012 at 9:15 pm

    you beat me to it Ms Kate … I called one of the keepers

  8. Meg Cheeveron 19 Sep 2014 at 7:11 am

    I saw an opossum last night in Schenley Park. As I was driving through the park near the swimming pool my headlights shone onto a startled looking full grown animal. Definitely an opossum.

  9. Kate St. Johnon 19 Sep 2014 at 7:23 am

    Meg, very cool. I’ve not seen one in Schenley yet. Great sighting!

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