Virginia opossum named Basil finds new home at National Zoo

Earlier this summer, the Zoo welcomed Basil, a Virginia opossum. (Courtesy The National Zoo)
Snoozing or playing possum’? Visitors can often find Basil sleeping in his fleece blanket, as he is nocturnal. (Courtesy The National Zoo)

Lions, tigers and bears — oh-possum!

The Smithsonian National Zoo welcomed a Virginia opossum named Basil to the Small Mammal House earlier this summer.

Basil was previously at local wildlife rehabilitation center City Wildlife in northwest as a non-releasable animal before he made his way to the zoo.

Before being found, Basil had been injured and lost one of his eyes during a predator attack. He was brought to City Wildlife to be treated and recover. The National Zoo says that young opossums are at large risk for predation by birds of prey, larger mammals and snakes.

Officials said it was unlikely that Basil would survive long in the wild with limited eyesight.

He was brought to the National Zoo to be an ambassador for his species, according to a news release.

Opossums are sometimes mistaken for rodents, but they’re actually marsupials. They’re in the same family as kangaroos and koalas — and they’re the only marsupials native to North America.

The National Zoo says that Basil is adjusting very well to his new home. Zookeepers say that he is interacting well with them and is, as a nocturnal creature, exploring his new habitat at night and spending most of his days sleeping.

“When we interact with him, we’ve learned that he is curious, mellow and very much enjoys being cozy,” the zookeepers wrote in a news release. “Basil especially loves his fleece blankets and finding a spot in his logs to get curled up.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

Ana Golden

Ana Golden is an Associate Producer for WTOP. Ana attended Emerson College and studied Journalism and Political Communication. While at Emerson, she worked as an associate producer for her school’s TV station, interned on senate and gubernatorial campaigns, and worked as a news anchor on 88.9 WER.

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