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Learn Fun Facts About Opossum. Most often seen prowling at night, or sometimes by the side of a highway, most people give little thought to the opossum. In fact, this small mammal is quite an interesting animal, unique among North American wildlife. If it cannot scare off an aggressor, the opossum will fall into a sort of faint, lowering its temperature and heart rate to appear dead. Opossums are marsupials, the only kind in North America, and so are related to kangaroos, wombats, and koalas. They are nocturnal animals, preferring to search for food at night, when they are more able to hide from predators. The ability of the opossum to climb trees is greatly helped by their opposable thumbs and their flexible, semi-prehensile tails.