Baby opossums found with dead mother

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

Three Virginia opossums were among the 85 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.

The Virginia opossums were admitted after being found on their deceased mother. The babies’ prognosis was very poor due to their overall weakened condition. The three joeys were dehydrated, weak and jaundiced. A necropsy was performed on the mother opossum to see if we could determine the cause of death and therefore understand what her three joeys may have been exposed to while still nursing from her. The necropsy was inconclusive due to the amount of time that had passed from when she died until being brought to the hospital.

The three joeys were given subcutaneous fluids and a Chinese herb as well as a homeopathic solution to support liver function. A milk replacement formula was slowly introduced over the course of several feedings. Currently, the joeys are being formula fed four times throughout the day and night.

If you happen to see a dead opossum along the road or in your community, please check to ensure it isn’t a mother with live babies. Opossums are frequently killed by cars, dogs and rat poison so it is very common to find a dead female with live babies. There is no need for you to extract the live babies from the mom. Place the mother with her joeys in a box and bring her to the wildlife hospital. Staff will remove the babies from the mother and can ensure that no babies are overlooked or left behind.

Opossums tend to have a bad reputation that is misguided and unwarranted. Opossums are our only North American marsupial and are really intriguing creatures that serve a purpose in helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Recent Releases

Six eastern cottontails, eight Virginia opossums, nine mottled ducks, a prairie warbler, five blue jays, a white-winged dove, a brown thrasher, three common grackles, three mourning doves, three northern mockingbirds, a royal tern, a burrowing owl and a red-bellied woodpecker were released this past week.

Opportunity to Help

It is baby season for wildlife in Southwest Florida, and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida is hosting our annual “Wildlife Hospital Baby Shower” to support our recovering babies. Gifts can be sent online through Amazon or dropped off at the Conservancy’s Nature Center 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 8. Visit our website at www.conservancy.org/babyshower for details.