Helping a baby opossum survive

It was an all-too-common urban situation: On May 8, a dead opossum was found by the side of the road in Morgan Hill. The Good Samaritan who stopped to check on the animal discovered that eight of its babies were dead, but found the ninth alive, though just barely, and still clinging to its mother.

The rescuer immediately wrapped up the tiny baby and brought it to W.E.R.C.

The little opossum’s front leg had apparently been seriously injured by the accident that caused his mother’s and siblings’ deaths, making him unable to stand and toppling him onto his side.

After being treated for an infestation of fleas, which had further weakened him, and fed warm formula via a tube, he was brought to the Animal Care Center for X-rays, which showed a critical fracture. Dr. Compton wrapped the leg with a splint and the opossum returned to W.E.R.C. for care and rehabilitation. Because opossums do not suckle, he needed to be tube-fed every three to four hours until he could be weaned and eating on his own.

Two weeks later, new X-rays showed that the leg had healed just fine. He is now vigorously climbing in his large enclosure and building up his muscles.

The little guy has steadily gained weight, from 62 to 280 grams, and doubled his length to 8 inches in one month on a diet of small rodents and other natural foods plus special nutrients.

He will be released soon near his original habitat, where he will be able to survive on wild berries, snails, slugs, moles and carrion – a real benefit to our environment!

W.E.R.C., the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center, provides the community with rehabilitation services for orphaned, injured and sick native wildlife. Through their educational programs, W.E.R.C. encourages a peaceful coexistence between civilization and our native wildlife. To contact W.E.R.C., call (408) 779-9372 or visit www.werc-ca.org.

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