D. Virginiana (Didelphis Marsupialis) Essay

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D. Virginiana (Didelphis Marsupialis)

The text of this paper will cover a description of D. virginiana, its ecology, history, and research involving the species.

The first topic to be discussed by this paper is a description of D. virginiana, which was until recently referred to as Didelphis marsupialis. The description of the opossum will start with a taxonomic description of the species. Following, will be the opossums appearance, and last will be the life cycle of the noted species.

The opossum, Didelphis virginiana, takes its name from two different languages. The name Didelphis is made up of the two Greek words “di”, and “delphys” which stand for “two wombs” referring to the female
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The females are in heat for approximately thirty days, and the mating session lasts no longer than thirty-six hours (Davis 2). The males forked penis delivers spermatozoa to the, females, paired uteri (Merritt 36). Gestation lasts for an average of twelve days, and produces up to fourteen young (Yahner 12). The young emerge blind, hairless, and pink weighing approximately one tenth of a gram, and measure around thirteen millimeters (Merritt 36).

The just born opossums crawl up into the pouch of their mother, with no assistance, and attach to one of her thirteen nipples (Davis 2). The nipples then enlarge to form a bulb in the mouth of the young. They will remain attached to the nipple for approximately two months (Merritt 37). However, the young will remain in the pouch for seventy to eighty days. After which they will climb out, and onto the mothers back. While on the mothers back the young will begin to eat solid foods. They will remain there until they are one hundred days old, when they leave their mother to become independent (The Georgia).

The next topic for discussion in this paper is ecology. This will include, in order of discussion: distribution and habitats; food sources; predators and parasites; and lastly, behavior and habits.

Didelphis virginiana ranges over most of the United States, excluding only

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