Infant Opossum Emergency
Opossums, though they appear to be similar to the rodents we accept, are in fact part of an older family of mammals called the marsupials (the same family that kangaroos and koala bears belong to). Opossums are the only marsupial in North America. Opossum moms are only pregnant for about two weeks. They then give birth to infants that are the size of kidney beans. The infants crawl through the mothers hair and into her pouch where they attach themselves to one of thirteen nipples. There they will remain for approximately two months.
Because opossum infants spend the first couple of months in the mothers pouch, it is important that if you ever come across an adult opossum from April to August that has been hit by a car to bring the adult opossum to your local licensed wildlife rehabilitator. In many cases even if the mother is dead the infants can be saved, but need to be removed from the pouch very carefully. Once the infants are 3 months and older they will begin to follow mom or ride on mom’s back in search of food like other mammal infants.
If you find a infant opossum follow these suggestions to reunite it with its mother:
- Carefully examine the opossum to determine if any of them are injured.
- Put the healthy opossums in a box lined with a soft material like a towel or t-shirt. Place a hot water bottle or some other heat source under the material in the box with the opossums.
- Place the box with the opossums near the area where they were found over night to allow the mother to retrieve her infants.
- Keep other animals and people away from the area.
If any of the opossums are injured or if the mother opossum has not retrieved her infants the next morning, please contact the Wildlife In Need Center at (262) 965-3090.