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Injured & Orphaned Opossum

The Tenafly Nature Center does not take injured or orphaned wildlife! An animal’s best chance of survival is in the care of its own mother.

If your circumstance requires you to handle it, always wear protective gloves and place a towel over it to reduce stress. Always take extreme caution with wild animals. They may harbor diseases and try to defend themselves when fearful. Always be overly cautious of an animal you suspect is sick and in this scenario, keep yourself, children, and pets at a distance, and contact animal control immediately.

Have you found an opossum?

  • Opossums are North America’s only marsupial which means the mother has a pouch in which she carries her young.
  • The baby opossum will stay with their mother until they are old enough to leave, which in most cases is when they are between 6-8 inches in length.
  • If you find one smaller than this that you believe to be orphaned, place it in a shallow box where you found it, or in a safe place closest to where you found it.
  • The mother will return for the baby. Stay out of sight and give her plenty of time, while keeping in mind that opossum are nocturnal.
  • If you are certain the mother is dead, or if the baby is injured, take it to a wildlife rehabilitator.
  • Signs of injury include shivering, vomiting, emaciation, bleeding, hit by a car, or attacked by a dog/cat.
  • If you have struck a mother opossum with your car there may be babies in its pouch that need help. Others may guide you on the proper methods of removing the baby opossum from the pouch, but we do not recommend this.
  • Use a shovel and place the carcass inside of a box for transport to a rehabilitator. Be mindful that it is illegal to take road kill without a permit. If you do this, make sure there are babies that need help, and you take it directly to the organization.
  • Opossum can sometimes be found trapped inside your garbage can. They are omnivores which means they’ll eat just about anything.
  • If you find an opossum in your garbage, use an object to knock over the trash can and stay away. Allow the opossum time to leave without harassment.
  • If it does not leave, it may be dehydrated from being in there for a long time. In this scenario, find a safe way to coerce it into a smaller container for transport to a rehabilitator.
  • Keep your garbage lids securely fastened to prevent these types of encounters.

How to Transport a Rescued Animal to the Wildlife Rehabilitator:

  1. Prepare a large box. Place a clean, soft cloth or towel at the bottom of a cardboard box or large dog carrier.
  2. Protect yourself. Remember that these are wild animals. They are scared and may try to defend themselves. Even if the animal doesn’t try to scratch, bite, or peck, parasites and diseases are common. Wear gloves, cover the animal with another cloth or towel, and gently place it in the box. Wash your hands and forearms after contact.
  3. Keep the animal calm and warm. Keep children and pets away. Do not bother or handle the animal longer than necessary. Keep it covered for warmth and in a dark quite place.
  4. Do not attempt to feed or provide water.
  5. Note where you found the animal. This is important for release.
  6. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator. Do not keep the animal in your home. It is illegal to house injured/orphaned wildlife without the proper training and credentials.
The advice expressed on this page is to be utilized at your own discretion. Laws regarding wildlife may differ between counties.

Local Wildlife Rehabilitators Accepting Opossums

Wildlife Freedom Inc.

The Last Resort Rescue
West Milford

Deborah DeRosa 973-769-6830

Complete list of Wildlife Rehabilitators
New Jersey
New York

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