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  • Writer's pictureautumn1431

Help, I Found A Possum!

Four opossum joeys sleeping on a green blanket
Sleeping Joeys

Opossums, more commonly known as "possums" here in the United States, play a vital role in our ecosystem. They are part of nature's cleaning crew and help dispose of roadkill, keep the pests such as spiders, ticks, snakes, and rodents under control, and aid in native seed dispersal when they eat fallen and rotting fruits and berries. They are North America's only native marsupial, their core body temperature is low enough that they hardly ever catch rabies, AND they eat ticks! Ten points to opossums!

An opossum joey in a defensive stance with its mouth wide open
A Joey showing off a defensive pose

But what about when you find one in need? Maybe you're taking your dog on a walk, or maybe you're watering your flower beds, or maybe you come across a mom who has been hit by a car. Suddenly, you see something small and gray scurry to hide...what was that?! As you walk closer to investigate you hear noises, but you know this critter was much too small to be a cat or even a kitten. You found a possum! It's all alone, no mama in sight, and it might even be injured. You know it needs help, but you've heard all the wives' tales since you were young: "If you touch it, its mama won't take it back" or "They carry so many diseases!" Well, we're here to set the record straight AND tell you how you can best help them!

Two opossum joeys with their faces poking out of an animal-print fabric nest
Joeys peeking out of their nest cube

If you find an orphaned opossum, what should you do? First thing's first, reuniting is always our priority. If the animal is not injured, give Mom Opossum a chance to get her baby - known as a 'joey' - by placing it in a protected area close to where you found it, away from pets or children, and out of the weather. Leave the joey alone for 4-6 hours, including at night, but keep an eye on it to ensure its safety. If Mom comes back for it, great! Your actions kept a family together and the joey gets to continue its life in the wild.

A group of opossum joeys, called a passel, in a hanging hammock
A passel of opossum joeys

But what if mom doesn't return, or you found mom already deceased? You are going to need to find a box with a lid, as opossums are surprisingly great at climbing. Line the box with an old t-shirt or a piece of fleece and set it halfway on top of a heating pad, and nestle the joey(s) inside. Place the animals in a warm, dark, quiet area away from children and pets, and limit handling. Then, text us: A Wild Life Animal Rehabilitation at 903-636-3193. From there, we will guide you on the best next steps!

8 opossum joeys in a blue tub on a yellow towel
Opossum joeys waiting to be weighed and fed

***IMPORTANT*** Do NOT try to feed them or offer hydration without first speaking to one of our wildlife experts! Offering food, water, or formula of any kind can end up hurting or even killing the babies. The absolute best thing you can do for that baby when you get it contained is to get it warm, and contact us immediately.

two opossums resting on top of a hanging animal print fabric cube
Snoozing opossums

But let's say you find an injured adult opossum. What do you do then? Well, our instructions aren't any different! Contain the injured adult in a box or pet carrier, place it somewhere warm, dark, and quiet, don't offer any food or water, and reach out to us for further assistance. Injuries vary dramatically, and we won't be able to tell you how to administer aid and not cause more harm without detailed descriptions of the problem.

A single opossum joey on a grass and dirt background
A small opossum getting a feel for grass and dirt

If you find a female opossum that is deceased, check her pouch for joeys. As a marsupial, opossum females have a pocket of skin on their bellies called a pouch that holds her offspring while they develop and grow. These pouches are usually held closed by muscles except for a small opening, but when injured or if the joeys are too big the pouch can stretch open. NEVER cut a joey out of its mother's pouch; doing so can cause them to swallow the teat they are attached to, which will result in their death. Great care must be given when pulling a joey out of a pouch to limit any damage to their mouths. Again, find a box or even a small crate to place the opossum(s) in, get them warm in a dark and quiet place, and contact us to receive further instructions.

A large opossum adult standing on top of a red pet carrier
An adult opossum

Remember, if you ever have to say "Help, I found a possum!":

  1. Capture - catch the injured or orphaned animal in a manner that is safe for both you and the wildlife

  2. Contain - contain the animal in a sturdy box, tub, or pet carrier that has a lid it can't escape from

  3. Warmth - place half of the container on top of a heating pad, place a bottle filled with hot water and wrapped in a towel inside the carrier, or use another source of heat to carefully warm the animal while allowing it to rest in a dark and quiet place away from children or pets, and limit handling.

  4. Contact - Please reach out to us, your local game warden or wildlife officer, or another licensed wildlife rehabilitator to get further instructions. We can be reached via text at 903.636.3193, by call at 903.858.1008, or via our website here at or

An opossum joey with heart-shaped markings looking at the viewer
Little cutie!

Wildlife Rehabilitators do their best with every animal that comes into care, but we couldn't do it without YOU! Thank you for caring about wildlife!

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