Who's the hardest-working mom? In the video above you can see a mother opossum, in care in WildCare's Wildlife Hospital, foraging for food with her whole family on her back. You can tell that all those babies are heavy, and keep an eye out for the little one who is half in and half out of the pouch as mom tries to walk! Video by Melanie Piazza
As Mother's Day approaches, we at WildCare are appreciating the wild moms of the world.
This mother opossum arrived at WildCare after likely being hit by a car. She had head trauma, a partially-healed fracture in her jaw, and a marsupium (pouch) full of tiny, jelly bean-sized babies.
Due to her injuries, the decision was made to keep the mother opossum in care and allow her to raise her nine babies at WildCare.
All of the baby opossums grew up healthy, and, to our astonishment, two of them turned out to be bright white!
These babies aren't albino, they're leucistic, and they're two of the most beautiful little opossums we've ever seen!
The Challenges of Being a Mother of Multiples
Raising one baby is hard enough, but imagine being a mom to nine little ones at once! As opossum babies grow too large for the pouch, one can really develop an appreciation for the challenges of being a mother opossum!
Baby opossums basically treat their mother like an ambulatory jungle gym. As she wanders her territory searching for food, the babies ride on her back. Or her side. Or her head. If they're hungry, the baby opossums might nip back into the pouch for some milk. Or they might clamber down and see what Mom is having for breakfast.
The video above was taken with a trail camera set up in the opossum family's enclosure. You can see how the young (and very plump!) baby opossums take the opportunity to explore on their own, but how they then go scurrying back to mom's back. You can also see her obvious impatience with the one that insists on riding on her head!
This mother opossum's nine healthy babies all of whom use all four feet to grip her fur and cling to her body. They're curious babies, so sometimes they will leave her to explore a bit, but they will express their anxiety about being away from her with loud "ch ch ch" calls, and they'll run and climb back onto her shoulders every few minutes.
As the babies get older, you can see what a heavy lift this becomes!
These young opossums grew up healthy and thriving at WildCare, and we released them back to the wild once they were old enough and large enough to survive on their own.
We at WildCare are awed every day by the work done by mothers of every species, and we wish all moms, human, wild, domestic and everything in between a very happy Mother's Day!
[well] Want to show the moms in your life how much you care about them AND about baby wildlife? Click to make a donation to WildCare to help us care for orphaned animals, and send a special baby-themed eCard to let Mom know you care! [/well]
When they're not wandering around searching for food, the opossum family relaxes in a cozy heap! The youngster in this video is enjoying a satisfying ear scratch, while one of his siblings considers changing his placement in the pile-up.
Video by Melanie Piazza
"Gotta get back to Mom!" It's fun to play with your brother, but real happiness is riding on Mom's back!