IF YOU FIND A BABY OPOSSUM
Opossum babies are often found crawling around next to their dead mother, or in the deceased mother’s pouch. Frequently, the mother has been hit by a car. Opossums remain in the mother’s pouch until they are two months old. Between two and four months of age, they may ride on their mother’s back and are dependent on the mother for help in finding food and shelter. At this stage, the babies will not survive without human care.
If you come across an opossum that has been hit by a car and you see stray babies wandering near the mother, collect them and place them in a small box or other container that is ventilated but where you can be sure to keep them warm. Warming and keeping an orphaned or injured animal warm is critical - click here for how to warm an animal.
If you don't see any babies, check the opossum to see if it is male or female. A male opossum's testicles are usually very prominent. If not, check for a female's pouch. There may be babies inside that will die a long and painful death if they aren't rescued.
Since the opossum is a marsupial, the babies attach to their mother's teats (at 13 days after conception!) and stay attached until they are ready to be weaned. To remove the babies from a dead mother's pouch, you must grasp the baby where it is attached to the teat, twist, and pull to detach. If you find this difficult or don't want to handle the dead animal, please wrap it in a towel or put it in a box and bring it to us at the center (call first 919-428-0896 so that we can be sure someone is there to accept the animal when you arrive!) and we will handle removing the babies.
Each animal’s nutritional, housing, and handling requirements are very specific and must be met if the animal has any chance of survival. Cow’s milk and milk replacers will make wild animals sick.
Raising any wild animal in captivity is illegal unless you have a state permit.
IF YOU FIND AN ADULT OPOSSUM
Is the animal injured (Bleeding, broken bones, wounds, deformity, etc.)?
If YES, contact your nearest rehabilitator and give as many details as you can about the situation so that they can help you determine how best to help the animal. Sometimes the animal is too weak protect itself from predators. And like babies, all injured or compromised animals need to be kept warm. But do not give it food or water. If you choose to handle the animal, wear gloves at all times.
If NO, opossums that are at least 8 inches long from tip of nose to the base of the tail (do not include the tail) are old enough to survive on their own in the wild and do not need human intervention, unless injured or malnourished.
If the opossum appears sick or malnourished, contact a state licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately.