Although commonly referred to as possums, opossums live in North and South America and are different from the animals called possums that live in Australia and other countries. Both types of animals are omnivorous marsupials, but each animal belongs to a different species order in the animal kingdom. American opossums belong to the Didelphimorphia order, while Australian possums belong to the Diprotodontia order.

Each order represents a specific biological classification. The order that American opossums belong to is comprised of several species of opossums. The order that Australian possums belong to is comprised of animals such as kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. So, when talking about opossums, we are referring to the American animal, and when talking about possums, we’re referring to the Australian animal.

Both possums and opossums are interesting animals. They are known for making some noises, although they are typically silent, so most people never even know when they are around. So, do possums purr? Do opossums purr? The sad answer is that there is no evidence that these animals purr. We have compiled all the information that you need to know right here.


Neither American Opossums Not Australian Possums Are Known to Purr

The truth is that neither Australian possums nor North American opossums are known for making purring noises. There is anecdotal evidence of the occurrence of purring from an American opossum, but there is no concrete proof that purring was definitely the noise that was heard. The people claiming to have heard purring from an opossum say that it’s a new mom communicating with her young. However, no studies have been done to collaborate on this point of view.

Possum in the tree
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Commons Sounds That American Opossums Are Known to Make

Opossums are known for being silent unless communication with other opossums is necessary. They will also utilize verbal communication to help fight or warn off predators. While purring is not known as a regular communicative technique, several other noises have been documented and concretely attributed to possums, including:

  • Hissing — When a possum hisses, it usually means they feel threatened, and they want to protect themselves or someone in their family. The sound of possum hissing is said to be similar to a cat’s hissing sounds.
  • Sneezing — This is typically a noise made by baby possums that are trying to get the attention of their mother.
  • Clicking — A clicking noise that possums make often means they are trying to communicate with “loved ones” within their lineage. Or to attack a mate.
  • Growling — It is possible for a possum to growl when they feel that they or their family members are being threatened.

The sounds that an opossum makes can be confused with sounds that many other animals, including cats and dogs, make overall. It’s important to ensure that you are dealing with an opossum problem rather than a neighborhood pet problem before taking next steps.

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Common Sounds That Australian Possums are Known to Make

There are three common sounds that Australian possums are known to make. A couple of these sounds are similar to those of the American opossum. The possum’s sounds are distinctive, so when you hear them, you can be quite sure that a possum is somewhere nearby. Here are the possum sounds that you should be aware of:

  • Growling — Possums tend to growl when protecting their territory or warning off foes. The noise sounds like a combination between a cough and a growl.
  • Screeching — This noise is typically displayed by possums that are close to each other and consider themselves in a dispute. The sound is like a quick, wheezy screech that seems argumentative.
  • Shrieking — This is a sound that’s made when a possum feels agitated for some reason. It is like a high-pitched scream that clearly signals distress.
possum eating_hirisflower, Pixabay
Image Credit: hirisflower, Pixabay

If You’re Hearing Possum Sounds, the Possums Likely Aren’t Alone

Both opossums and possums tend to make noises when they are interacting with each other, whether for familial or conflict reasons. Therefore, hearing opossums or possums usually means there is more than one possum in the area. If they are being pests, you should contact a pest control specialist to help relocate or eradicate the animals that are causing havoc on your property.


Final Thoughts

Possums and opossums can be bothersome, but hearing their communications can make them feel more relatable. This is why it’s always a good idea to enlist the help of a professional wildlife control specialist who understands that you just want to encourage the animals to make another space their home. These critters can be cute, but they can also harbor diseases that you don’t want to be exposed to.

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