One evening last week, I got a call from a man about two opossum babies that he and his wife had rescued. The caller did not give many details about the situation – only that the mother had been killed and these two were now without a mother. Since FD and I had taken our nephew Sid, from Nebraska, fishing that evening and we were not too far from the location of the man calling, we decided to pick up the two little opossums on our way home. Upon meeting the man and his wife, we could see that, like most people who find orphaned or injured critters, they were concerned and wanted the best for the two opossum “joeys” (technical name for baby marsupials). And it always makes me feel good to meet like-minded people who are animal lovers.
On the way home Sid, held one baby while I took the other, using our own body heat to keep them warm. FD also adjusted the air conditioning in the truck so they wouldn’t get too chilled on the way home. As much as I would have liked to raise these two opossums, I knew it would be overload for me at this point in the summer. Sid and I had plans to fish every day that week, and FD would join us most evenings (can you tell Sid loves to fish?), so I knew there would be no way to manage time for feedings every three to four hours as these two would require. Even though they appeared to be around nine weeks old already, and would likely not be too much trouble to feed over the next couple of weeks, I still had plenty to do to manage caring for Ronnie and Emma deer, seeing to the needs of my two elderly dogs, harvesting my gardens, watering, weeding, and mowing.
With all this going on, it would be late afternoon the next day before we could take the two female joeys to Wildcare, a larger facility near Oklahoma City where they could be with other orphaned opossums, get the care and attention they needed, and learn the ropes of being opossums. So, that morning and again in the afternoon, Sid and I took care of feeding these two to get them by until we could transport them to Wildcare. Fortunately, I had some squirrel milk replacement formula on hand which can also be used for opossums. Feeding them was a breeze since they were old enough to lap their milk and did not require nursing with syringes.
And, while I had an easy time of helping my little ‘possum to potty by gently rubbing the genital area with a wet wipe, Sid had a slight bit of trouble with its sibling. Apparently, his little charge wanted to play. The wet wipe became a prop similar to what a rope dancer would use in a Cirque du Soleil performance. Sid never could get his ‘possum to let loose of that wet wipe! And, just when I was bragging about how well-behaved my opossum was, she bit me on the finger! I had not even thought about the little buggers having teeth already!
That evening, we dropped the pair off at Wildcare, and I felt a bit of regret at having made the decision not to keep them. They were cute as could be and really quite comical. They were old enough to be easily cared for, and would be ready for release before winter arrives. But I also knew something had to give on my end before I could commit to another wildlife rescue task. Life presents us with many decisions like this and, hopefully, our choices help strike a good balance of everything. I know I will have other opportunities for opossums when I have the time to give them appropriate care. For now, I am thankful for the twenty-two hours we had with this pair of ‘possums, and that Sid got a taste of wildlife rehabilitation.
© 2016 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…