Possums are arboreal animals (in most instances), found primarily in South and Central America, with a single species found in North America.
There are, however, many animals that are similar in behavior and description.
In today’s article, we’ll be taking a look at 8 animals that look like possums.
- Tasmanian Devils
- Shrew Opossums
Note: The animals are ranked in no particular order.
Table of Contents
Scientific name (genus): Martes
Martens are similar to possums in many ways – they’re small to medium-sized animals, but they’re noticeably furrier.
Another obvious difference is the tail – most possums have nude tails, but the tail of a marten is covered in fur.
Martens are generally more adapted for colder areas, while the only possum species found in relatively cold climates is the Virginia possum.
Ironically, there are no martens in South America – the most possum-populated continent.
Just like possums, martens are omnivorous. They’ll gladly eat small mammals and insects, but they won’t say no to fruit.
Scientific name (genus): Mustela
Just like some possums – weasels are thin, furry animals. Their tails are covered in fur, though, unlike the possum, while they’re also great swimmers and climbers.
While there are good swimmers among possums (especially the water possum), most members of the genus stay away from water if possible.
Weasels are strictly carnivorous, mostly feeding on small animals, such as rats, rabbits, birds, frogs, and fish. Unlike possums, they can’t eat fruit.
In parts of northern South America, weasels and possums share territory.
The least weasel is the smallest carnivore in the world.
Scientific name (genus): Neogale
Mink are semi-aquatic animals that are also known for being great climbers. Because of their slender build, they can easily be confused for water possums.
These small animals are about 23 inches long and they usually weigh no more than 3 ounces, greatly resembling possums in this aspect.
Unlike possums, they’re strictly carnivorous – minks feed on aquatic animals, as well as small mammals. They do not eat fruits and vegetables in the wild or in captivity.
Scientific name (order): Peramelemorphia
Bandicoots can easily be confused for possums because of similar measurements and body shapes, with the most obvious difference being the very long noses that possums lack.
The fur of these animals similar to possums in Australia is mostly brown and gray, similar to many possums.
Another similarity is the nocturnal behavior that both groups display – usually feeding during the night.
Unlike possums, though, most bandicoots are diggers, while they’re also great jumpers.
5. Tasmanian Devils
Scientific name: Sarcophilus harrisii
Tasmanian devils look like larger, bulkier possums with furry tails. Although smaller animals can climb trees, most adult devils are too large for this.
They’re mostly solitary animals, just like possums, while they feed exclusively on meat.
Unlike possums, which often nest in trees, Tasmanian devils live in dens – they’ll invade another animal’s den and force them out.
Another difference is migration – unlike possums, which migrate when facing predation, Tasmanian devils usually spend their entire lives in the same den.
Scientific name (genus): Macrotis
Bilbies are small omnivores with a head shape strikingly similar to that of a possum (ignoring the rabbit-like ears).
However, unlike the possum, the tail of the bilby is usually twice shorter than the body, while the possum’s tail is usually longer than the body.
Their diet is almost identical to that of the possum; eating insects and very small animals, as well as fruits and bulbs if they find any.
They have very long tongues that help them find earthworms and roots below the ground.
Scientific name: Myrmecobius fasciatus
These marsupials are a very rare species, found in very restricted areas in Australia. Similar to possums, they have a pointy muzzle and a small, thin body.
Their tail is very bushy, though, unlike the tail of the possum which has no hair.
Numbats mostly feed on insects, particularly termites. Just like some possums, numbats can become very territorial when another member of the same species invades the grounds.
They’re mostly solitary and diurnal.
8. Shrew Opossum
Scientific name (family): Caenolestidae
These marsupials share both possum and rat characteristics, making it look like they’re a possum-rat cross. They mostly feed on insects and earthworms, rarely feeding on fruits and vegetables.
Shrew possums are very rare animals – their habitat is mostly inaccessible as they’re only found in the grasslands of the High Andes.
There, they can grow up to 6 inches in length and grow a long nose, similar to that of the possum.
Unlike most marsupials (possums included), these animals do not have a pouch for carrying their young.
Although all of these animals share some similarities with possums, there is no animal that’s completely indistinguishable from a possum. Because of their secretive and nocturnal nature (at least with most species), most possums are difficult to find.
The larger species, such as the Virginia possum, aren’t similar to any animals in their natural environment (at least not by description).