The Virginia Opossum is an excellent climber and is largely arboreal, though it is equally at home on the ground. Its diet is largely carrion, but also includes insects, worms, frogs, birds, and small animals of every kind; plus fruit, berries, and grains.
Virginia Opossums nest in burrows abandoned by other creatures, hollow logs, and other sheltered places, lining the area with leaves. Gestation is less than two weeks, and the young are carried for the next two months in the mother's pouch—which unlike the forward or backward-facing pouches of most marsupials, has a vertical entrance—and suckle from one or another of her 13 nipples.
The Virginia Opossum is noted for its reaction to threat, which is to feign death. This is called "playing (o)possum". At other times, however, it will put on an aggressive display, hissing, screeching, and showing its teeth.
The Virginia Opossum is the original animal named "opossum". The word comes from from Algonquian wapathemwa, not Greek or Latin, so the plural is opossums. It is usually pronounced without the leading "O". It has given its name to many other animals that resemble in appearance and behaviour: the South American opossums (which are reasonably close relatives) and the possums of Australia (which are only very distantly related).