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Mammals
Opossums



Opossums
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.79

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    housing, non-aggressive, overripe, soft-coated, anal, mechanism, possum, naked, opportunists, undeveloped, frequently, reality, based, phrase, automatic, crossing
     content words:    North America


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Opossums
By Mary Lynn Bushong
  

1     What animal looks like a giant rat but isn't one? It has a prehensile tail like some monkeys, but it isn't one of those either. It has more teeth in its mouth than any other mammal, yet it is nearly defenseless. Do you know what it is? It's an opossum [uh-POSS-um].
 
2     In many ways, opossums look like something left over from prehistoric times. Their mouths have fifty teeth, and their naked tails are used like a fifth foot.
 
3     Opossums also have a lower body temperature than other mammals. This means they are often slower to move around on cold nights. This is a real problem when they are crossing a busy road. In another way, this lower body temperature is of great benefit. Opossums rarely get rabies.
 
4     What opossums lack in good looks, they gain in uniqueness. They are the only marsupials native to North America. In fact, they are thought to be distant cousins to the koala of Australia.

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