Mammal Lesson and Craft

The Charleston Museum’s mission is to educate Charleston area residents and visitors about the natural and cultural history of the South Carolina Lowcountry through collections, exhibitions, preservation, conservation, research and related programming. While our exhibitions are closed, we are committed to this Mission as we join our fellow institutions around the world to bring our Collection, to you. Follow #MuseumFromHome on various Social Media pages and stay connected with us for content like this. We hope you’ll stop by the Museum when our exhibits reopen and expand your knowledge in our galleries with displays that just look better in person – like an 18 foot Giant Ground Sloth. Consider supporting our efforts with a donation to The Charleston Museum.

A mother opossum and her joeys.

Mammals are warm-blooded vertebrate animals with certain characteristics that scientists use to classify them.

Mammals give live birth, rather than laying eggs, and mothers feed their young with milk. They also have four limbs – sometimes all four legs, like a puppy, and other times two arms and two legs, like us! Some are covered in fur while others have hair, but all are warm-blooded. A warm-blooded animal maintains a regular body temperature.

Even though we typically pronounce “opossum” as “possum,” the American opossum (pronounced uh-poss-uhm) and the possum found in Australia, New Guinea, Sulawesi, New Zealand, and China are different animals. They are both part of a group of mammals called marsupials. Marsupials have a special pouch to carry around their babies. Other examples of marsupials include kangaroos, koalas and wombats. Baby kangaroos, and both baby opossums and possums are called Joeys.

Opossums have a defensive reaction, or instinct to “play possum” or pretend to be dead when they are scared or feel threatened. Opossums are also great to have in your yard because they eat ticks which helps to stop the spread of Lyme disease. They also have a prehensile tail. This means their tails can be used like an extra paw and can grip things to help climb a tree!

To craft one of these amazing animals, you will only need a few supplies.


  • Toilet Paper Tube
  • Grey paint (or crayons, markers, etc)
  • Scissors
  • Grey paper
  • White paper
  • Pipe cleaner (or string)


  1. Paint (or color) your tube grey.

  2. Cut out a white heart shape for the face.

  3. Cut out some feet, hands, and ears from the grey paper.

  4. Glue your hands, feet, ears, and face (in appropriate places) onto your tube.

  5. Draw some eyes on your face.

  6. Add your pipe cleaner as a tail.