If you like fun vocabulary words, you'll probably enjoy knowing that a group of opossums is called a "passel."
At WildCare this month, we have far exceeded a passel of opossums. We're facing an Opocalypse! Or is it an Opopalooza? Or an Opossumpocalypse?
Whatever you call it, this year is clearly a successful one for opossums. Our team currently has 40 of the marsupials in care, and more arrive every day.
Most baby opossums arrive in groups of two or three, but a mother opossum may have as many as 13 babies in her marsupium, or pouch.
Too often WildCare will admit a mother opossum hit and killed by a car, but with babies still alive in her pouch! Opossums are slow-moving, their eyesight is not great, and they're far from road-savvy.
If you see an opossum hit by a car on the side of the road, and it's safe for you to do so, WildCare recommends that you pull over and check if the animal is a female with baby opossums in her pouch. You may find yourself rescuing multiple tiny lives!
If you find live babies in the marsupium (pouch), don't try to pull them out. Bring the mother AND babies (even if she is no longer alive) to WildCare or your closest wildlife care center. Call WildCare's Hotline for help and advice at 415-456-7283.
In the two videos below you can see some of our orphaned baby opossums exploring their surroundings and tasting the wide variety of foods we offer them.
Opossums are omnivores... they're actually part of "nature's clean-up crew," eating fallen fruit, carrion, and garbage, along with insects and rodents and virtually anything else their incredibly sensitive noses can find.
Did you know opossums groom thousands of ticks off themselves every year?
A study of backyard wildlife showed the opossums are fastidious groomers, and they eat every tick they find in their thick fur. This means having opossums in your neighborhood will not only help get rid of fallen fruit and roadkill, it may also greatly reduce the risks of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases!
Caring for orphaned opossums requires specialized skills and equipment.
Unlike most other mammals, baby opossums do not suckle their mother's milk. Instead, they latch onto a nipple within the mother's marsupium, essentially fusing their mouth around it, and swallow it.
For this reason, our trained Opossum Foster Care Team members learn to "tube" their foster babies, giving them specially-formulated opossum formula directly to the stomach every four hours until the babies are weaned. DO NOT try this at home!
The photos below are from just one day of opossum care in the Wildlife Hospital.
Click each image to read more about how we care for ALL the opossums at WildCare.