Wednesday, August 3, 2011


When opossums are threatened or harmed, they mimic the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal.

The physiological response is involuntary, like sneezing.

Playing dead reflex develops; the brain does not always react this way at the appropriate moment for baby opossums.

When playing possum, the animal's lips draw back baring teeth, saliva foams around the mouth, eyes close or half-close, and, the scented fluid secretes from the anal glands, thus the smell of death.

In the stiff, curled form the animal can be touched or carried without noticeable reaction. Slight ear twitchings are visible as the animal regains consciousness within 40 minutes to 4 hours.

Interesting articles click here
Smells of Death Centuries Later - Smells Sweet
Illustration: Merian Opossum 1875 Popular Science