Straightening out the nose-mating opossum myth

I love it when you find unexpected information on the internet.

me:  I saw a possum in the backyard when I pulled in the driveway last night.  Wow, they are just ugly.

Matt:  Yes, they are.  (pause)  I don’t think they have any natural predators.

me:  Well, let’s see.  I’ll google it.

Quick Google search and I found a site called “The Possums Pages:  FAQs“.  I found out that 1) in America that they are properly called opossums (true possums only live in Australia) and 2) yes, natural predators are foxes, bobcats, coyotes, dogs and owls.

me:  This guy really must love the ugly little bastards.  There is all kinds of stuff on this site.  Oh, my god, listen to this–

Do opossums really mate through the nose?  This is a myth that has been around for ages and has become so prevalent that I actually have seen a few websites about opossums which state it as a fact.  The truth is, there is no truth to it.  The whole crazy idea seems to have come about because the male opossum has a bifid (forked) penis, and the only corresponding parts on the female appeared to be the nostrils.  The myth states that after mating through the nose, the female later sneezes the tiny fetuses into her pouch.  Rather than indicating what a unique animal the opossum is, this story actually just reveals how bizarre some people are in what they can imagine.  In reality the male has a bifid penis because the female has two uteri (wombs), and sperm are deposited into each womb during copulation.  But mating occurs through the vaginae (sic), not through the nose.

Matt:  Did you just say, “she sneezes the fetuses into her pouch?”  Did I actually hear that come out of your mouth?

me:  Yes, that’s what it said.

(I continue to read opossum facts.)

me:  Here’s the next one:

What are male and female opossums called?  Male opossums are called jacks, females are called jills.  (Sound familiar?)  The young are referred to as joeys, just like their Australian cousins.  A group of opossums is called a passel.

Matt:  A what?

me:  A passel.

Matt:  Are you pronouncing that correctly?

me:  Yes, it says a passel.  A passel of opossums.  That’s hysterical.  Say it.  A passel of opossums.  (laughing)

Opossum guy, I have new respect for the ugly opossum because of your FAQs.  Well done.