What Should I Do if I Find an Orphaned or Abandoned Opossum?
Many of you have probably heard of opossums and are well aware of what they look like. What many of you might not know however, is what to do when you find yourself an abandoned opossum out in the open. What will you do? How will you react? What’s the proper course of action? Well here’s a few pointers that might just help you in these situations.
Finding oneself in this situation, it is important to observe one crucial thing: if the opossum is really orphaned and abandoned. In many cases, the opossum may not actually be abandoned, and the mother is just somewhere nearby. If this is the case, keep listening for a “sneezing” sound the baby makes, as that is the sound of it calling for its mother. If you notice this sound, it might be best to leave the area, as the mother may be aggressive to protect her child.
When you find a baby opossum all alone and it isn’t making the sneezing sound, it is most likely orphaned. This would be because you wouldn’t find a baby opossum on its own, as the mothers have pouches on them where they hide their babies. If they are hurt or killed, the baby remains within the pouch until help arrives. Finding one out on its own, not calling for help means that it is, in fact, abandoned.
Don’t be the hero:
It is important to understand that taking care of a young opossum requires a particular set of skills that not everyone has. As such, if you find yourself in this situation, it is best to call a professional or call your nearby wildlife expert. Attempting to care for the baby may result in you getting hurt, as well as the child. Not to mention, it is actually illegal to care for such an animal unless you are a trained professional. To avoid bringing unwanted pain to yourself and the animal, as well as getting arrested, it’s best to call a professional immediately.
When push comes to shove: Say you were able to contact the proper people to care for the animal, but they said that it would take them a while to get to where you are. You should do the following things to help bring ease to the animal, though these methods are not encouraged and should be used only as a last resort.
- Place the opossum in a small box (ex. shoebox), the box should have cloth at the bottom and should be atop a heating source. This is so the opossum can stay warm.
- Make sure you carefully place the opossum in the box, as any sudden movements may cause it to lash out.
- To feed the baby, you should have a mixture of milk and a rehydration drink such as Pedialyte. It should be diluted in the proportion of 1:2 with water. You can use a dropper for accurate measurements. Never force the opossum to feed as it may choke.
- Once feeding is done, gently massage it from the belly to the tail, this will help its bowel movements. Just repeat this process until help arrives, and the opossum should be alright.