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WNC Nature Center visitors learn about often misunderstood critter

Folks at the Western North Carolina Nature Center are happy to teach visitors about the animals who live among us. In particular, Ms. Virginia Opossum helps teach people about a sometimes very misunderstood local creature. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Folks at the Western North Carolina Nature Center are happy to teach visitors about the animals who live among us.

In particular, Ms. Virginia Opossum helps teach people about a sometimes very misunderstood local creature.

Nature Center staff say Virginia Opossum has been humanized. That means she isn't afraid of humans, so she can't return to the wild.

On Wednesday morning she gets a snack mixed with fruits, veggies and cat kibble.

With Virginia's help, visitors learn an opossum's life span is 2 to 3 years on average. They also learn that their tails help give them balance.

Visitors also learned that, unlike all other marsupials, opossums can not contract the deadly rabies virus.

"Opposums do not carry rabies, and scientists are still looking at and trying to figure out why they don't carry rabies," Keith Mastin, a curator of education at the WNC Nature Center, explained. "But still, with all of those teeth in their mouth, that is an animal really to be watched out for."

Other interesting fact about opossums is that they are nocturnal animals that sleep about 20 hours of the day.

Staff say Virginia the opossum is a wonderful ambassador for the Nature Center, just like all the other animals in their care.

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