Meet Olive, often pronounced “awww-live,” our newest animal ambassador. One-year-old Olive is an opossum (not to be confused with possum) who came to us from Project Wildlife after being deemed non-releasable. Unfortunately, Olive has injuries consistent with being hit by a car that left her with neurological damage and injury to her left eye. Luckily, Olive has found a home with us where she is well cared for and can help overcome the bad rap often associated with these little marsupials.
Despite what you may think, opossums are very clean. They lick their paws constantly for both hygienic and cooling purposes. They also don’t carry rabies. Marsupials in general have a lower body temperature than most mammals which isn’t a suitable environment for the rabies virus. And they help reduce the spread of Lyme disease because they eat ticks that attach to them, about 5,000 per year. In addition to their cleanliness, opossums have even more tricks up their furry sleeves.
Being the only North American marsupial, opossums give birth to very underdeveloped, blind, and deaf offspring. Shortly after birth, they climb into the mom’s pouch where they continue to develop until ready to emerge. Opossums also have an incredible memory when it comes to food- don’t we all? Not only can they remember where they’ve found the tastiest treats, they can also remember what foods upset their stomachs, making them excellent omnivores. And the final tall tale to put to rest is that opossums can sleep while hanging from their tails. Despite storybook illustrations, their prehensile tail does hold their weight, but only for very short periods of time.
Olive currently lives behind the scenes, but will be making appearances for guests on weekends and special events. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@thelivingcoast) and sign up for our email newsletters to make sure you don’t miss her!