Saturday, March 5, 2011

The opossum's penis

Opossum mating has been the subject of folklore. Because the male has a forked penis and because the only obvious double opening in the female's body is her nostrils, it was once assumed that she was impregnated through the nose. (Her babies landed in her pouch, of course, when she bent over and sneezed them into it.) The real story is not quite--but nearly--as bizarre.

The male mounts the female, and she does indeed have a forked vagina that nicely matches his sex organ. Donald and Lillian Stokes' A Guide to Animal Tracking and Behavior states that impregnation occurs only if the couple falls over on their right sides. Opossums that remain upright or fall to the left during mating are less likely to become parents.

What you lookin' at?
You can read more about the private lives of opossums in my book Passionate Slugs & Hollywood Frogs: An Uncommon Field Guide to Northwest Backyards.

12 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your new blog/website! Now that you've revealed the sex secrets of the opossum, I will be checking regularly for other tantalizing tidbits. :-)

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  2. OMG! You are insane, woman. I'm so gonna tweet this.

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  3. Oh my. That's incredible. I love the hilarity of nature. Seriously, someone was having a laugh when he/she/they created the opposum.

    <3 Gina Blechman

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  4. "The hilarity of nature"--what a great way to phrase it, Gina!

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  5. Whoa.....I've seen a lot of possums in my life, but now you give me a new mission to sneak around and watch for. Thanks for a fascinating view of marsupial sex. BLUSH...BLUSH
    And congratulations on your book. You're on my blogroll.

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  6. I...uh...really never even thought about how they mate...and I do hope I never witness it. I always picture possums with large fangs and hissing and growling--not beling loving.....

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  7. Ok, so the opossum thing is interesting, but what I really want to hear about is all those things you've done ... we need a memoir from you! "In My Long-Legged Life" would be a great title.

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  8. Oh, the joy of knowing this forked tidbit of knowledge! Thank you ,Pat!

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  9. Oh, the joy of knowing this forked tidbit of knowledge! Thank you ,Pat!

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  10. OMG! You are insane, woman. I'm so gonna tweet this.

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  11. Whoa.....I've seen a lot of possums in my life, but now you give me a new mission to sneak around and watch for. Thanks for a fascinating view of marsupial sex. BLUSH...BLUSH
    And congratulations on your book. You're on my blogroll.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Congratulations on your new blog/website! Now that you've revealed the sex secrets of the opossum, I will be checking regularly for other tantalizing tidbits. :-)

    ReplyDelete