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Need Help!

Wallabies, kangaroos, Sugar Gliders, Possums, Quolls, etc.

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Need Help!

Postby Luxe » Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:39 pm

My friend lost one of the opossums in her home. Does anyone have any tips for finding it or luring it out? They're almost 14 weeks old, and weigh between 120 - 140 grams. She's really panicking because they're as small as a hamster and she has big dogs.
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Re: Need Help!

Postby pat » Sat Aug 09, 2014 8:28 am

now thats a tough one. I don't know anything about opossums. do they take a bottle? drink milk?
maybe try putting a small dish of milk in a couple places :shrug:

I hope the dogs didn't kill it..

the other members might have some ideas.

keep us updated please. I hope the baby is found safely..
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Re: Need Help!

Postby Luxe » Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:54 pm

I hope not... Opossums don't suckle so a bottle isn't ideal.

I've practically been walking her through most of this since her only experience with them was weaned adolescents. Right now they're on about 1/3rd a bottle of milk, and 2/3rds baby food mixed in with chopped fruits and veggies that have good cal:phos ratios, things like blackberries, raspberries, watercress, etc. They can eat semi-hard foods, I guess kind of like to 'soft kibble' is more of their current chewing capacity.

What's really bad is it was the one I was going to adopt and have been bonding with, when I can, that escaped... I made the long trip when I could to see him. I'm just so distraught right now, I'd feel so much better to know he's ok, at the very least...

I hate to ask, but does anyone know how long babies this old can go without? I'd say they're 6 - 8 inches long nose tip to tail tip. Some have began weaning, mine's a late bloomer, though...
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Re: Need Help!

Postby pat » Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:00 am

I was hoping the baby could be found by now?
were they not in a cage before?

did your friend try putting a bowl of food out, maybe put the food in a cage?

I don't know how long they can go without food.
my guess only, possibly a week or even a little more :shrug:

I would have suggested a have-a-hart trap for mice. but, don't know if the oppossum would still be too small for for the trap to go off..
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Re: Need Help!

Postby Trefoil » Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:29 pm

This is awful. I hope its been found by now but if not, its time to totally search. Look especially under stuff, in small dark places, and for anywhere it could get caught. Start at on en of the lhouse and search until you find it.
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Re: Need Help!

Postby Luxe » Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:06 pm

Still not found... I went over there to help her do a complete investigation, lifted up everything, sorted through clothing and shook them out since he enjoyed sleeping in clothing, cut open her couch and box springs, looked high and low, on to of cabinets, inside of cabinets, all floor space, under and in appliances, etc... Laid down several dishes of food with a warm place to sleep in multiple places and all of them went untouched every day. Even had a camera swapped around locations to watch for anything but nothing came up. He was in a tall plastic tub with his siblings. She had a cage but wasn't sure if they were ready to be in an open-air cage. She wasn't sure if they could thermoregulate completely since she keeps her home super cool. The others have been moved to the cage and are doing well.

How good are they at finding their way outside?.. If he's not in her home then maybe I could find closure in thinking he's started a life in nature.. it may not of been what I intended, but at least it's something...

I'm just so torn up over this, I felt so bonded to him.. Maybe one day I'll just trap a pair and become the only breeder of hand-reared babies in my state... I only know of one in PA and one in OH.
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Re: Need Help!

Postby pat » Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:17 pm

I am so sorry to hear you did'nt find the baby :cry: really was hoping he was found.

if none of the food was eaten that was put out, that don't sound too good.
not knowing what the house is like, it could be possible he got outside. did you look around outside?

do you think the dogs could have got it?

not a good idea to get one from the wild. it is illegal in most states to do that.
I think, most states require a permit or bill of sale from a breeder to legally own any type of exotic.

do you have any pictures of them? I would love to see the other babies..
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Re: Need Help!

Postby Luxe » Thu Aug 14, 2014 1:55 pm

pat wrote:I am so sorry to hear you did'nt find the baby :cry: really was hoping he was found.

if none of the food was eaten that was put out, that don't sound too good.
not knowing what the house is like, it could be possible he got outside. did you look around outside?

do you think the dogs could have got it?

not a good idea to get one from the wild. it is illegal in most states to do that.
I think, most states require a permit or bill of sale from a breeder to legally own any type of exotic.

do you have any pictures of them? I would love to see the other babies..


We did look around outside but didn't find anything. As much as I'd prefer it not happen, it is possible he could of found his ways to the dogs and who knows what happened...

It is legal in my state, just have to get a trappers permit and trap one during a certain timeframe of day between November and February. Have to get a captive wildlife permit first, but for one opossum a 4x4x8 enclosure must be built and an additional 2 sq ft floor space per extra, which, in my honest opinion, I see as way too small if they're permanent outdoor pets. I'd only consider a wild house opossum if I managed to gain its trust and tame it down, but I don't know if that's even possible. I say it's too small because I know we have nasty winters, and a well insulated dog kennel seems to be a mist for them to survive our bitter cold winters when they're stuck in a cage. I don't see how that leaves much room to roam and exercise if you put even a super small 2x3 kennel in there... That's just way too cramped for the poor babies in my opinion. I'd build an 8x8x8 or 10x10x8. The only other way to legally keep one is, of course the captive wildlife permit first, and then buy from a licensed breeder. I live in Kentucky while my friend is in Tennessee.

I only have one pic on this device(my iPad), and that's of Ozzy. It was my fav pic I have of him and now it just breaks my heart to look at it... I would of taken a pic of the others while there but I was just so distraught that it was the last thing on my mind. I even gave her a little wheel(raptor wheels for sugar gliders) to teach him to run on it so that, when I bought the cat exercise wheel, he'd already know what to do and he could get his exercise. He was learning so fast...

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Re: Need Help!

Postby Trefoil » Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:03 pm

I don't know where you're from or your state laws, but I have heard it is possible to "tame" a wild possum. It is also possible to buy a "home bred" one. Are you sure there are no breeders in your state? Also if you find a very recent road kill always stop & check it out,BUT any babies you find must be treated, I've heard that when killed there is something toxic in the milk that will kill the babies if not treated. I don't know the particulars or even if its true, so check it out. I believe the lifespan of possums is very short.
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Re: Need Help!

Postby Luxe » Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:42 pm

That is correct, opossums are documented to normally live 3-5 years in captivity with a few rare incidents of 10-15. I personally feel, though, that this is due to many opossum owners not being educated about the delicate cal:phos ratio they need to prevent health concerns like MBD. Ideally you want nearly double the calcium to phosphorus. Somewhere around 1.8:1.0 to 2.0:1.0. That means you need to know the ratio of the foods you're giving them, even kibbles(I'm very against feeding pet kibble personally). So, based on this, if majority owners didn't delve that deep into dietary needs, then most captive opossums are unhealthy. I'd also like to test this theory using a very strict diet that focuses on this ratio and see how long of a life span turns out. Obviously this could turn out to be lengthy study, but a huge benefit to respective owners.

The only breeders I could find is one in PA and one in OH. The man in PA seems very very kind. I spoke with him for a while. They are home raised. I have yet to get in contact with the breeder in OH, but the low price suggests parent raised.

I would like to be a home-bred kind of breeder, producing pet quality babies. It means a lot of sleepless nights, but I love these strange and misunderstood little buggers.

I've always checked dead mother's pouches and cared for the young while waiting for available spaces in rehabs. None of mine ever died, since I don't know of this treatment you speak of. I've heard of the toxic milk rumor before but I don't believe it's been extensively studied. I was the first in my family to begin this habit. Now my whole family stops for dead opossums and checks them over.
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Re: Need Help!

Postby Ash » Thu Aug 14, 2014 4:55 pm

Many people adopt orphan opossums without incident. I'm tempted to call the toxic milk thing an old wive's tale--maybe just to make it so people don't bring home any of the babies or something. Kind of like when people say if you touch a baby bird it will be rejected by its parents--that's just to make it so people don't go and disturb birds' nests.

In my opinion, if a breeder is an option, then definitely go with a breeder. It will be much better in the long run. Keeping two wild adult opossums to breed is going to be very difficult, and honestly, it won't be much fun. Unless you're wanting to bring in new bloodlines, which opossums don't need, I don't see the point when there are a LOT of breeders of Virginia Opossums out there.

If you want to breed, I suggest buying babies from both of the breeders you've mentioned. :) It'll be nice to have captive-born ones that are already tame and that like human contact.

If TamanduaGirl drops by this thread, she'll probably have some other pointers. She knows a lot about opossums.

Sorry about the little one... I hope you'll be able to get your opossum soon. Sometimes the circle of life just happens, and it's sad, but it's the will of nature. Again, I can imagine how sad it must be to lose a little one.
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Re: Need Help!

Postby Luxe » Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:24 pm

It is quite possible. I can't help but notice that most rehabbers seem to scorn good meaning people and have a strong distaste for them. I don't see the harm as long as you're educated about it. People go on how rehabbers have specialized tools and methods. They don't(with opossums, and unless they need medical attention, then, yes, they do). They use either small syringes, eye droppers, or at worst tube feed the little ones with esbilac. I will admit, though, that tube feeding is a very delicate process that should really only be attempted by people that already have the skill, and they can teach you so that you may use it in the future if need be. That's how I picked up syringe feeding parrots, and my first baby was one of the ones most prone to aspiration, the umbrella cockatoo.

With the possum babies that end up in my care for any amount of time, I start off with pedialyte to get them rehydrated first of all, usually for the first 3 - 5 feedings depending on age and how severe. I know very little furless babies feed far more frequently than bigger babies. Start off 3/4 pedialyte and 1/4 Esbilac puppy milk replacer, pre-mixed. Eventually taper off the pedialyte and replace it with water. Smaller babies have more water to food ratio than bigger babies. For ones about 6 - 7 weeks I'll do half and half. The Wombaroo replacer I asked her to try this time around seemed to also do well, but for safety I had her mix half and half, so, for example, 1/2 water, 1/4 Esbilac, 1/4 Wombaroo. As they get older I taper off the water to where it's just milk, finely chopped fruits and veggies(with good cal:phos ratios)', and baby food. Like, for example, if a baby were... Let's say 11 - 12 weeks. They'd get a dish of milk formula, about 1/4 water, 1/2 milk replacer, 1/4 baby food mixed all together, finely chopped fruits and veggies in another little dish, and water in another so they can get used to eating independently, drinking, etc. they'd also be introduced to poultry meat at this point and other soft solid foods. I only feed poultry and insects as far as protein sources. Red meat has far too many phosphates, you'd have to pump them full of other calcium rich food to even stand a chance of evening it out, and it's just not worth the risk to me. On the nights I feed chicken, I also accompany it with calcium rich Dubia roaches(I breed them).

Some people say feed them half an avocado every other week... I've researched and unless there's some form of nutritional item that ONLY an avocado can supply, it seems reckless to feed them this food item. It has a horrible ratio, almost as much phosphates as chicken for just one cup, so you'd have to stuff the poor fella just to even out half of an avocado.

No, I'm not a licensed rehabber, but I understand summer time is beyond hectic for rehabbers, and sometimes they're simply too filled up with other babies in need, so I do what I can until space opens. I'm surely not going to let them die.

Also, for those educated, the baby food may raise concern. It's not in excessive quantities later on. It's mainly a starter to get them adjusted with different tastes, and them to get them started with mushy foods, them soft solids, then they progress to harder solids. More of an enticer, I guess to say. I explain this because a diet consistent in wet foods can lead to poor intestinal health.
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Re: Need Help!

Postby Trefoil » Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:57 pm

I have had personal experience with some very good rehabbers, but I have noticed online the ones that say they are rehabbers tend to use that as an excuse to be idiots. Thanks for the info. sooner or later it'll come in handy. With the way things are everybody either needs the information to rehab or have a friend that does, its the only way to ensure that the baby you rescued from the side of the road by its dead mother isn't just killed by the rehabber you entrusted its life to. That's sad.+
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Re: Need Help!

Postby Luxe » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:14 pm

Trefoil wrote:I have had personal experience with some very good rehabbers, but I have noticed online the ones that say they are rehabbers tend to use that as an excuse to be idiots. Thanks for the info. sooner or later it'll come in handy. With the way things are everybody either needs the information to rehab or have a friend that does, its the only way to ensure that the baby you rescued from the side of the road by its dead mother isn't just killed by the rehabber you entrusted its life to. That's sad.+


Very true. If you ever need any help with opossum babies, just send me a message. I'm not licensed but I spent several hours researching them 'cause, I dunno, I've always had a fascination with them. Read all the information I can find on them online and also picked up some books here and there. When I was a young teen I got curious and began research on them, learned about checking dead mothers, and always hoped one day I would maybe have one. I've always been an animal lover and researched odds and ends.

I'm not even veterinarian trained but have done enough research to do an at-home neutering like some farmers do, but I would not recommend at-home spaying. Much more invasive, much more liable to introduce airborne bacteria, not something you want. Many people are against it, but you just got to make sure your equipment is sterile and try to keep the environment as cleanly as possible. I think people should focus more on others that think it's acceptable to tie a tight rubber band around the testes and let them fall off. I've seen people often refer back to farmers doing it with goats and cattle, but a dog or cat does not equal goats or cattle.

My mother recently saved a litter of 8 from a dead mother. They were sent to a local rehabber, and last we checked they're all doing fine, so that makes me happy. I actually found a dead girl today on my way to my mother's. No babies, though. I always laugh, though, people see me pulling a possum out of the road and looking over the corpse and they just make the strangest faces.

As a breeder, it'd also be my goal to speak on behalf of them and educate the public. I recently saw an ad on craigslist, locally, for a two month old opossum. I don't mind, so much, if they're trying to do the right thing. These people seemed to realize it was a big responsibility and needed a home willing to take on those tasks, and didn't just post it for free(because, as we know, 'free to good home' usually results in animal abuse when it comes to craigslist, not all the time, but a lot of the time). I posted a response, just educating the individual about the laws and to make sure to educate the new parents. They did raise a few red flags with me, like saying he liked hotdogs and pizza. I don't ever recommend feeding a pet junk food, except maybe as a VERY seldom treat(like my dogs may get a piece of left overs once every few weeks or so). I explained the cal:phos ratio and why it's important, gave links to food item lists, veterinarian studies, and links regarding laws for those that want to be out in the open about owning an opossum. I say this because I don't always go by the laws. I did get some pretty sad responses... One person said I was crazy and disgusting... One person asked if it was big so he could cook it to make possum soup... One said I'm going to get rabies... People, I swear.

Heck, me even helping wildlife is considered against the law. Quite personally, I think the laws are stupid, since KY views any and all state wildlife as THEIR property and only licensed individuals have the right to provide care to them. I'm sorry, but from my experience, some of these licensed individuals are very uppity about their title. There's no need to be like that. Plus, there aren't enough of them to help ALL the wildlife that gets hit by a car, poisoned, injured by a trap, etc. Sure, at the end of the day it's nature just doing it's thing, but... I would just personally feel really guilty if I left them to die. I'm not one to not care about an animal in need, it would go against who I am to leave it to suffer. The least anyone could do is educate themselves if a rehabber is not immediately available, and help as best as possible until one is. As for laws regarding ownership.. well, the captive wildlife enclosure requirement I can see, it's to ensure that at least the animal has a place safe from other predatory wildlife, elements, etc, despite my personal feelings that the dimensions are far too small... but one to own an orphan you raised? If you raise an orphan, well, that's automatically illegal if you aren't licensed.. but to keep it is considered poaching, no matter the circumstances. I fail to understand the logic if it could just be released and then trapped again to live in captivity in November - February... and also considering most opossums are killed around here. Seems some of the locals poison them, hunt them, eat them, intentionally run them over because they're 'ugly' and many people around here believe the myth they carry rabies.... awful people around here.
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Re: Need Help!

Postby Luxe » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:25 pm

Oh, another really important thing to note about them, if you have horses, I really do not recommend you keep them unless they're kept far away from your horses and you completely sanitize before coming into contact with your horses after coming into contact with your opossum(s).

They carry equine protozoal myeloencephalitis in their feces, very deadly neural disease that can be passed on to your horses(though, if I remember right, it doesn't shed out into fecal matter from a diseased horse, so does not pass horse to horse). There are some other animals that CAN carry it(not all the time), but opossums are definite carriers.
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