A visually-impaired opossum called Heidi at Germany’s Leipzig Zoo has become Germany’s latest animal star after gaining 120,000 Facebook fans.
Opossums are the largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, and are small to medium-sized marsupials. They are also commonly called possums, though that term is also applied to Australian fauna of the suborder Phalangeriformes. The Virginia Opossum was the first animal to be named an opossum; usage of the name was published in 1610. The word opossum comes from the Algonquian aposoum, meaning “white beast”. Opossums probably diverged from the basic South American marsupials in the late Cretaceous or early Paleocene.
Their unspecialized biology, flexible diet and reproductive strategy make them successful colonizers and survivors in diverse locations and conditions.
When threatened or harmed, Opossums will “play possum”, mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. When playing possum, the lips are drawn back, teeth are bared, saliva foams around the mouth, and a foul-smelling fluid is secreted from the anal glands. The physiological response is involuntary, rather than a conscious act. Some times baby opossum’s brains do not react therefore they do not “play dead”. Their stiff, curled form can be prodded, turned over, and even carried away. The animal will regain consciousness after a period of minutes or hours and escape.
What caused the crossed eyes? Probably something hereditary that caused unbalanced eye muscles.
A cross-eyed opossum in Leipzig, Germany is becoming the latest animal sensation in that nation. Heidi is already spawning stuffed toys and glances from admirers.
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