Marsupials are often associated with Australia where most of the species are found, including the most well-known, the kangaroo. However, not all 334 species of the pouched mammal are found on this continent. Many types of marsupials can be found in Papua New Guinea and North, Central and South America.
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Home to 120 species of marsupials, Australia has the most of any continent. It is also the natural habitat of the largest marsupial, the red kangaroo. Typically classified into six groups, four types of marsupials are found in Australia: "macropods" (kangaroos and wallabies), "phalangers" (opossums but not like the kind found in North America), "dasyurids" (small insect-eaters) and "peramedlids" (bandicoots). Other types of marsupials native to Australia are the wallaroo, koala, dunnart, monjon, kowari, potoroo, nubat, quokka, marsupial mole, Tasmanian devil, wombat and antechinus.
Papua New Guinea
New Guinea is home to 53 species of marsupials. It also has kangaroos, but they are called "tree kangaroos," as they are arboreal and live mostly in the trees. Also native to New Guinea are the cuscus. This animal is similar to the opossums of Australia. Also found in New Guinea are the Bruijin's (long-beaked) echidna, the bronze and New Guinea quolls, also known as the "native cats," and the New Guinean planigale.
South and Central America
Ninety species of marsupials are native to South and Central America. Western South America is home to one of the six groups of marsupials called the "caenolestids." These are rat, or shrew, opossums. There are six subspecies found in the Andes mountain range. There are also 60 types of opossums in South and Central America, including the water opossum, also called a yapok.
North America is home to one species of marsupial, the common or Virginia opossum. They live in urban and rural areas and are about the size of a domestic cat with white heads and brown/black bodies. The opossums of North America are not the same as the varied species found in Australia, New Guinea and the rest of the Americas.
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