Welcome to the opossum care page of Willa’s Ark. Opossums are the only marsupial which lives in North America, a mammal which gives birth to her young at the embryonic stage. The babies find their way to a small pouch where they mature, like a kangaroo. They have opposable thumbs on their hind legs, and a prehensile tail to help them climb and keep their balance. And no, they do NOT hang by their tails!
They have existed on this earth for 70 million years. Opossums roamed the earth during the Jurassic period, along with the tyrannosaurus rex. After 70 million years, opossums have undergone very little evolutionary changes. They are essentially immune to rabies, more than any other mammal.
Opossums are very useful animals to have in your neighborhood. They love to eat snails, slugs, and insects such as cockroaches and beetles, and even catch and eat roof rats. Opossums also like to eat carrion, helping to maintain a clean and healthy environment. They are very smart, ranking above dogs in IQ, and closer to pigs.
Opossums have very mean and intimidating teeth, but their main method of defense is to appear that they are scary. If they are cornered to the point where they think they cannot get away, they will “play dead”.
Opossums are very difficult to care for. Their diet is complicated, and they have very different immune systems, making vet care tricky for a doctor which is not well trained in opossum care. Because opossums are used in research, and their care is not well known, we will not post details of opossum care on this page. This is so that we may avoid giving away helpful information concerning opossum care to institutions which may not have their best interests at heart.
If You Found a Baby Opossum
If you find a very small or injured opossum, or think your opossum is sick, please contact the National Opossum Society. Experts are available for consultation on the health of your opossum, and they may put you in contact with opossum rescuers in your area. If you think your opossum’s health is in immediate danger, call one of the National Opossum Society directors from your vet’s office.