If an opossum is captured or attacked, it frequently does not run or fight as the majority of animals do under similar circumstances. Instead, it sinks to the ground, partially closes its eyes, allows its mouth to gape and its tongue to roll out. During this procedure, its breathing becomes almost imperceptible.
So do opossums fool by playing dead? It is often said that when an opossum behaves in this way, it is deliberately feigning death to deceive its attackers. Some people have doubted whether opossums have this much intelligence, and believe that they really faint with fear.
By tossing them into the water, or unceremoniously dumping a bucket of water over them, one can usually revive the creatures. Whatever the reason for their performance, it appears decidedly dis-advantageous to future generations of opossums, if deliberate.
It seems to be an asinine procedure and to reflect upon the intelligence of our only marsupial. Surely any attacker, whether human or animal, would rather contend with a passive victim than with a crawling, biting or fleeing antagonist.