Rescuing a baby possumIt’s been like three weeks since, right after dark, I took Feo Dos out of his cage, drove to a woodsy, secluded location and sent him on his way. As far as rescuing possums go I am now 2 for 2. Could become a professional rescuer. I have to admit that it was all a lot easier than it could’ve been, both babys were already weened by the time they came under my care.

It kinda started just like last, and every other, year — around the beginning of April it’s dead baby possum season. This time the lone survivor turned up first on our doorstep. Literally, Margo opened the door in the morning on her way to work and there he was cold, tinny, curled up and crying for his mommy. At first Margo considered just letting our already gathering cats take care of the problem in their own “natural” if gruesome way. In the end her tender heart denied the cats a few hours of fun and gore and she called out: “Marek, there’s a possum by the door. Can you take care of it?” – knowing full well that she might have to put up with the critter for the next month or so.

When we first found him he was such a baby. If you don't stimulate to eliminate they will not pee and their bladders can rupture. The possum's first new home.
When we first found him he was such a baby. If you don't stimulate to eliminate they will not pee and their bladders can rupture. The possum's first new home.

I came over and picked the little guy up. I imagined the cats, who are always so darn cautious, bickering over who was to blame for the missed opportunity. If only the dogs were there to jump in, as is their habit, without thinking. Over the following week I found another 2 baby possums but unfortunatly these guys were both stone cold dead.

The surviving baby was about 2 weeks younger than the original Feo. His teeth were just coming out and he didn’t even have any of the long, grey guard hairs on his back. Such a soft little baby that even Margo and Rachel had to admit he was almost cute.

I checked him over. He was cold, a little dehydrated, hungry and he had a few fleas but no visible wounds or broken bones. Yep, this one might be a survivor. The only problem would be if he had internal damage but that would only show up in a matter of hours. If he survives the night he will get a name.

To prevent problems keep the food varied. Ahh... he must like my cooking. Eating, drinking, sleeping and pooping - that's a baby possum life.
To prevent problems keep the food varied. Ahh... he must like my cooking. Eating, drinking, sleeping and pooping - that's a baby possum life.

Now I’ve done this before and as I explained when writing about Feo, last year’s possum, rescuing small animals is in my blood and part of my genetic makeup. And, I already have the cages, feeding bowls and what not.

Most people will not know what to do. Unless you think you can commit the time and don’t mind "stimulation to eliminate" which means helping the baby defecate and urinate, I strongly suggest calling The Opossum Society of the United States or the National Opossum Society. They have possum enthusiasts that can take the problem off your hands and give it a second chance at survival. If the possum was not already weened I would not be ready for the effort and would’ve called for help myself.

First I gave the possum some water by dipping a paper towel and than squeezing drops into his mouth. Remember, possums are marsupials so they don’t have the suckling instinct like placental babies, they can only lap. He was thirsty and began lapping the water of the towel by himself. Well, that’s a good sign. Next I pulverized some very ripe banana and avocado with a fork and using a pair of bamboo skewers as chopsticks I fed this to my new patient. He attacked the skewers as an enemy, discovered the banana/avocado goo and chowed down. Another good sign.

O.K. time to “stimulate to eliminate" — you do this by holding the possum and stroking his neither regions with a warm damp paper towel. You are trying to imitate the mothers tongue action. Woo hoo, we got poop and pee. That’s the third good sign — this might be a very lucky possum.

There was only a few fleas on him so I was able to just brush them out with a flea comb.

I lined an old, small hamster cage with some Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) and threw in the sleeve from an old towel robe of mine. The possum quickly found the sleeve, crawled inside and fell asleep.

During that first day he had another 3 feedings, pooping and peeings. The last was after midnight.

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