|Help Me! I Found A Baby
Opossums are North America's only marsupial. The female
carries and nurses her young (up to 13 at a time) in her
pouch until they are about 2-3 months old.
Then they are carried another 1-3 months on her back
when they are outside their den. They are omnivores that
have been around since the days of the dinosaurs. They
have 50 teeth, more than any other mammal, and their
hind feet have thumbs, just like human hands.
Learning and discrimination tests rank them above dogs, and
more on the level of pigs. They have a prehensile tail they
use for balance when climbing or to carry leaves back to their
den for bedding.
They do not, however, hang by their tail. They are solitary
and nocturnal, preferring to avoid all confrontations. When
cornered, they may hiss and growl or fall into an involuntary
shock-like state ("playing possum").
Unfortunately, few live beyond 1 year of age in the wild as
they are killed by many predators: humans (and cars), dogs,
cats, owls, and larger wildlife.
If you find a small opossum that has been separated from its
mother and its body is more than 8 inches long (not including
the tail) it is old enough to be on its own! If it smaller
than this or injured, it will need assistance.
If you have found a baby opossum, a young opossum with no
mother, or you know the mother to be dead, here are a few
- KEEP YOUNG OPOSSUMS WARM. Place the
opossums in a box lined with soft rags and close the lid.
They are very good climbers, so make certain that the lid is
secure. If you have a heating pad, turn it on low and place
half the box on top of the pad
- Place the box in a warm, dark, quiet area
away from people and pets
- Should you have to keep the baby opossums
overnight until you can get them to a licensed
rehabilitator, you may attempt to rehydrate them, ONCE they
have warmed up, you may make a 50/50 solution of either Pedialyte OR Gatorade and water. After the little opossums
have warmed up, you can try to carefully give them drops of
this warmed liquid with a syringe. Do not force them, if
they won't swallow. To do so can cause aspiration, which can
- Do not attempt to give them ANY type of
formula or milk. If the baby opossums still have their eyes
closed, they will need to be stimulated to urinate and
defecate. After hydrating, gently wipe their genital area
with a cotton ball, slightly moistened with warm water
- If the baby you have found is 4" long or
longer, has its eyes opened and isn't lethargic, you may
give it a little applesauce in a shallow lid. These
emergency feeding instructions are only good for the 24-hour
period it might take you to get the orphan to a licensed