The largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere , it comprises or more species in 19 genera. Opossums originated in South America and entered North America in the Great American Interchange following the connection of the two continents. Their unspecialized biology, flexible diet, and reproductive habits make them successful colonizers and survivors in diverse locations and conditions. In the United States and Canada, the only species found is the Virginia opossum , and it is generally referred to as a "possum"  - but should not be confused with the suborder Phalangeriformes , which are arboreal marsupials in the Eastern Hemisphere also called "possums" because of their resemblance to Didelphimorphia. The word "opossum" is borrowed from the Powhatan language and was first recorded between and by John Smith as opassom and William Strachey as aposoum. Following the arrival of Europeans in Australia , the term " possum " was borrowed to describe distantly related Australian marsupials of the suborder Phalangeriformes ,  which are more closely related to other Australian marsupials such as kangaroos.
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Good information about where different species are greatly assists conservation programs. Members of the public can play a valuable role in helping to collect this information in their own backyards, and surrounding parks and natural areas. To help people share sightings of possums and gliders we are adding a section on possums and gliders to the free CAUL Urban Wildlife App.
At the start of the year I set a goal of trying to see mammal species in Australia for the year. By December I had crawled my way to 89 and with work busy and a hectic schedule it was looking unlikely that I would make it. I managed to find a small window and booked flights to Cairns for a few nights up on the Atherton Tablelands where a suite of a number of new types possum and other local mammal specialties should get me there with a bit of luck. I flew out of Melbourne Saturday morning and landed in Cairns just after lunch.