We hardly ever see oppossums -- commonly called possums -- unless we're out at night. Then you can see them trying to cross the road. Sometimes they're successful. Sometimes they're not.
And sometimes we just hear them rumbling around the garbage cans while we're trying to sleep.
In trying to find out what makes these critters tick, pretty much all we found out is that even though the species is physiologically unique in our area, oppossums are really no more than common pests.
They have no redeeming social value.
Indeed, according to pestworldforkids.org they are the only marsupial native to North America. It follows logically that they are closely related to kangaroos and koalas. All females can carry their babies around in the tummy-pouch.
The other neat thing about possums is that their long pink fur-less tail is prehensile, meaning it can be used as a fifth hand. And each foot has five toes.
Unless they're devouring dead animals -- which they love -- or feasting on the aforementioned garbage, they catch and eat rats and mice. They also love fruit and vegetables and insects including cockroaches, beetles and crickets.
The females give birth to up to eight babies twice a year after a pregnancy that lasts 13 days. At birth, an oppossum can fit in a teaspoon, and it stays in mom's pouch until it can walk.
They're not aggressive and not destructive, according to the website, but they should never be handled because they are wild. They will use their pointy teeth if they're cornered.
They live in hollow logs and among rocks or in pipes or under buildings.
Do not bring one home to your mom and say, "Can we keep him?"