Their stiff, curled form can be prodded, turned over, and even carried away. Etymology[ edit ] The word "opossum" is borrowed from the Powhatan language and was first recorded between and by John Smith as opassom and William Strachey as aposoum. She was so badly hurt, we were unable to re-release her I am also amazed at the responses and questions I always get about possums. I was totally speechless. Opossums have a natural defence system against the toxic effect of snake venom whether it is a rattlesnake or a viper; creatures whose venoms could kill humans in the absence of intervention. Of the over species of marsupials, most over species are native to Australia and nearby islands to the north. The tail is occasionally used as a grip to carry bunches of leaves or bedding materials to the nest. This, notwithstanding, some of them are adapted to life on ground which — in unfavourable conditions such as loss of habitat — becomes their home. Opossums have an unusually full jaw, by mammalian standards, with a total of 25 teeth in both jaws 13 in the upper and 12 in the lower jaw. Marsupials also differ from placental mammals in their reproductive traits. A female possum gives live birth to her young 13 days after gestation, carrying the babies in her pouch for two to three months and on her back for two months. They are commonly also called "possums," though that term is also applied to Australian fauna of the suborder Phalangeriformes. When they reach 75 to 85 days of age, they are weaned and seldom go back in the pouch. The following classification by Gardner recognizes 19 genera and 91 species. The pouch is a small fold of skin with a small opening where the relatively undeveloped fetuses are protected, and which covers the nipples.