How Long Do Possums Live [Facts and Information]

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Each animal has an average life span, after which it starts to age and dies ultimately. The same is the case for possums. Possums generally have a reasonable period of staying alive, but how long do possums live?

The possums can live up to 8 years. The average life span is about 5 to 6 years. However, there have been some possums who can even live up to 10 to 12 years of age. 

In this article, we will see whether there is a difference between the lifespan of possums living in the wild and those living in captivity. If so, how great is that difference, and what can be done to improve their life spans? 

How Long Do Possums Live
How Long Do Possums Live

How Long Possums Live In The Wild


Possums are short animals. Generally, they have a lot of exposure to external threats in the wild. Not to mention the insufficiency of nutrients and competition over the scarce food sources, possums generally don’t live more than one or two years in the pure wild. 

Their average life span in the wild is only two years, which also means that the animal has a high reproduction rate even in the small life span. That is why it leaves behind a lot of progeny. 

How Long Possums Live In Captivity?

The scenario is a bit better in captivity, though not a lot better. The possums survive three years in detention on average. However, if not dead, they can stay up to 7 years in captivity given that: 

  1. Possums do have not got any lethal disease
  2. Possums have not contracted a life-threatening infection
  3. No predators have come to feed on possums
  4. Possums have been well-fed and do not face any food shortages. 

What Is The Longest A Possum Can Live?

Possums are small herbivores that can live up to eight years in the wild. The average life span is about 5 to 8 years for common possums. 

However, certain species like the brushtail possums can live up to at least 13 years in the wild. On the other hand, the ringtail possums can live their life for about 10-12 years. So, all in all, the life span is better than most animals for the possums. 

Why Do Possums Have Short Lives?

Many zoologists say that possums get to live even lesser than their estimated life span. This is due to several reasons:

  1. Due to road kills
  2. Due to predation
  3. Due to low immunity 

Those living in the wild are prone to all kinds of dangers from their external environment. However, the ones that have been held captive die quickly due to less exposure and low immunity development. 

How Do You Know When A Possum Is Dying?

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To determine the average life span correctly, it is also essential that one should recognize the signs and symptoms of a possum dying. Here are a few of them:

  1. A possum’s body goes limp
  2. It discharges its bowel content 
  3. The tongue of a possum sticks out 
  4. The possums start drooling
  5. Even if you poke a possum, it will not respond to you
  6. It is not long before it appears to be lifeless. 

How Long Do Possums Live As Pets?

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The possums can be kept as pets. However, there are only a few people who support them. Only the researchers collect them mainly and keep them as pets. If unharmed, a possum can live up to 4 years easily. 

Its life may be extended if the quality of care and food is also improved if the possum has been kept safe from viral and bacterial pathogens via the administration of therapeutics and vaccines. 

What Is The Lifespan Of A Pet Possum?

The wild possums have barely 1.5 to 2 years of age short life span. However, the ones kept as a pet and taken care of surviving and live healthy life up to 10 years of age.

Good care and health hygiene practices improve the life expectancy of the possums. In this, their cages are cleaned timely.

A proper diet is given to them, along with the required medication. Under such optimal conditions, possums can thrive in good health for many years. 

What Is The Longest Living Possum?

It has been recorded that the oldest possum lived up to four years and five months. This is a great life expectancy compared to the possums that live in the wild. 

Commonly, many possums do not even survive the first year of their life on this Earth.

The oldest possum that researchers have captured was about three years old from the wild. 

How Long Do Domesticated Possums Live?

The domesticated possums have a life span that is slightly better than the ones in the wild.

The domesticated possums have been tamed and are subjected to a particular kind of lifestyle in which they are comfortable living and growing. That is why possums can live up to 4 years. However, the life span can vary from specie to specie. 

Why Do Possums Live So Short In Captivity?

If the possums have been held in captivity for too long or have been born there, then one of the main reasons they cannot survive much in captivity is the distance from their natural environment. 

1- Low Immunity

Moreover, a confined surrounding does not offer much. It keeps the possums away from necessary Antigen exposure, which is required to build immunity. That is why many possums die as a result of a weaker immune system. 

2- Old Age

It has been noticed by researchers and zoologists that a possum who has been held captive ages faster than the ones in the wild. That is also one of the reasons why the possums start dying out quickly when held captive. 

How Long Do Brushtail Possums Live For?

The brushtail possums live for about 13 years in the wild. The young possum is either in the den or rides on its mother’s back till it is 7 to 9 months old.

After a year, the females attain maturity. The males reach maturity at the end of their second year. Both are capable of surviving and living in the wild. 

How Long Do Pygmy Possums Live For?

Pygmy Possums

As per the species, the life span is going to vary. The mother pygmy gives birth to three to eight young ones. As it is a marsupial, the under-developed are raised inside a pouch for some time.

This duration usually lasts for about two months. The pygmy possums live up to five years in the wild. 

How Long Do Ringtail Possums Live For?

Ringtail Possums

Generally, the ringtail possums do not survive after three years. The common ringtail possums can easily live up to 6 long years. Half of the offspring produced by the mother will not even make it through their first year. 

How Long Do Possums Live In The Pouch?

Possums are marsupials, and their characteristic feature is having a pouch attached to their bodies. This pouch is found in the mother possums, and they take care of their little ones by providing them with nutrition. 

So, how long do the possums live in the pouch before they are ready to come out and live on their own? The possums spend approximately two months inside the pouches of their mothers. 

They remain there till they are old enough to take care of themselves. Thus, the ideal age for living out independently is four months. That is the right time for them to come out and explore this world. 

How Long Can A Possum Live Under Water?

The possums can hold their breath underwater for about 4 hours. They enter a sleep-like state in which it appears that they have died.

So, any predator that tries to approach them returns, thinking that they are dead. That is a possum’s little trick of making other animals aware of its fake death. 

During this time, a possum’s breathing becomes hollow and shallow. After the danger of attack by a predator has been averted, the possum comes out of the water and roams around typically.

The Average Opposum Life Cycle

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The life cycle of a possum is quite interesting. There are many stages involved in this:

  1. Breeding

Possums breed near the end of the winter season. So the prime time for them to produce is between January and February. The male possum finds a female possum at night and approaches it. 

A female only accepts a male once in the season. The pregnancy usually starts after 36 hours of mating with the male possum. After 12 to 13 days, a female possum gives birth to 16 to 20 offspring at once. 

This is the shortest gestation period for the marsupials. That is why the population of possums can be propagated easily. 

  1. Joeys

Baby Possums are also called joeys. They are near to the size of a rice grain when they are born. They are blind and only climb up their mother’s tail to reach her belly for protection. The majority of offspring die as they cannot get enough feed from their mother. 

The ones who are lucky get appropriate nutrition from their mother, which increases their chances of stepping into adulthood. 

  1. Adolescence

After one week’s continuous feeding, the newborn becomes thrice as large. After spending an average of 60 days in the pouch, the baby possums are eager to come out of it. After 76 to 85 days have elapsed, the possums do not return to their mothers. 

However, they still like to accompany their mother as they get older. They go out at night with her to gather food and other resources. 

  1. Adults

An adult possum can live on its own without the help of his mother. For females, the age of maturation is six months, while for males, the period is about eight months. 

What Factors Impact The Possum’s Lifespan?

The life span can be impacted by predation, sickness, and humans. The predators hunt possums down and kill them for eating. Sickness prevails in the wild.

A lot of possums fall ill and cannot recover. Last but not the least, humans are quick to kill possums who have entered their homes. That is why possum’s life span is reduced and they die.

Wrapping It Up

Possums can live up to an average of 6 to 8 years. However, the life span varies for those who reside in the wild from those held captive.

In captivity, possums receive better care. However, there are some developmental issues. The wild environment is suitable for them, but they are exposed to external threats. That is why their life expectancy is reduced.

The possums have a good reproductive rate. Even if their life span is short, it can easily be compensated by the large number of off-springs they produce in every season.