National Opossum SocietyDescription:
The National Opossum Society is a not-for-profit charity,
dedicated to educating ourselves and sharing knowledge with others on all aspects of the proper care of opossums. Keywords:
opossum, possum, what to feed an opossum, how to feed a baby possum, how to feed a baby opossum, rescue baby possum, rescue baby opossum,opossum society, wildlife, orphans, wildlife orphans, oppossom,
oppossum, wildlife rehabilitation, marsupial, Didelphis, Didelphis virginiana, Virginia opossum, nuisance opossum Body:
National Opossum Society
National Opossum Society
welcomes you to the world of the Virginia opossum!
If you are visiting us because you have found orphans, or an injured opossum, please see our ORPHAN PAGE.
Information for Rehabilitators
The Importance of Proper Diet
Finding a Veterinarian to Help
Quick Opossum Facts
Natural History of the Opossum
Discouraging Opossum Visitors
Opossums As Pets??
Join the Society
Searchable Index for your Membership Packet!
Positions of the National Opossum Society
Search Our Site
A Short Quiz ...
What animal goes on a honeymoon, and 13 days later gives birth?
It lived during the age of dinosaurs: fossil remains have been found from 70 million years ago.
It can eat almost anything.
It loves to eat insects (beetles, cockroaches, and so forth).
It eats snails and slugs.
It catches and eats roof rats.
It also eats cat food, dog food, people food.
It has thumbs on its hind feet!
It is very quiet, although it can make some sounds.
Learning and discrimination tests rank it above dogs, and more on the level of pigs.
Give Up? More clues...
It does not have a territory, but is always on the move, going to wherever the food is. Females stay in a smaller area while they care for their young.
It puts up a terrific bluff if cornered and can give the appearance of being really good at defending itself. NOTE: it is not good at defending itself!
If attacked and unable to fight or run from danger, it collapses and appears to be dead!
An Opossum? That's right!
Females have litters up to twice a year (the father always skips town!).
Babies, typically 5 to 8 in a litter are ready to leave mommy's pouch
and walk around out on their own by 4 months of age. That's when they are
7 to 9 inches, nose to rump, and weigh about 10 to 16 ounces.
But 'possum life is rough! Very few survive to become adults.
The few that make it are eager to have their own love affairs and repeat
Nature is very efficient. If an area will support them (has
their favorite foods, water, and appropriate shelter) more opossums
survive. If times are hard, fewer will make it.
If a lot of opossums are killed by predators (they have lots
of predators- man is one of the biggest) there is more food for those that
remain. Then these little furries will reproduce more successfully until
they get back to their optimum number; or others will move in
to fill the void (or niche) their absence creates. They can be replaced
by opossums from outside the area, by rats, skunks cats, crows, raccoons,
Fortunately opossums are hardy little animals-;
they have to be!
In general they present a far lower health risk to humans than do dogs and
cats! They seem to have a naturally high level of immunity to most diseases.
Example? Opossums are more resistant to rabies than any other mammal;
cattle, goats, dogs, cats, sheep, and the ice cream man are far more
susceptible to rabies!
Admittedly, opossums do carry fleas (as do all wild and some
domestic animals). And the opossum may bite you if you are
foolhardy enough to grab one; after all, they are
But they help to maintain a clean and healthy environment. They eat all
types of insects, including cockroaches, crickets, beetles, etcetera.
They catch and eat rats, roof rats, mice, and they consume dead animals of
all types (carrion). They like over-ripe fruit, berries, and grapes. And
they think snails and slugs are a delicacy! Nature's little Sanitation
Typically they go about their quiet task late at night, and you usually
won't know they were around...unless your dog (being territorial) starts
barking, or you happen to take a midnight stroll when one is munching
insects or snails in your yard.
What to do if you encounter an opossum...
Just watch an enjoy one of Nature's beneficial wildlife species. If you must do something, try counting the thumbs on your feet...
If one has chosen your your garage, attic, or other structure, as its
temporary quarters, you may not want it there! There are relatively
simple and non-lethal means to get them to leave for more suitable spots
in your area.
In the meantime, and BEFORE you have a visitor to those structures, pick up
pet food at night, keep lids on garbage cans, and close potential entrance
points. You can still enjoy opossums as they wander through your yard,
eliminating its various pests as they go through their nightly excursions.
What is the COST of Killing Opossums or Removing them from an Urban
In terms of the environment, the cost is
loss of a harmless animal which eats all manner of pests and
leaving a vacant ecological niche which will be filled by
adjacent opossums or by other mammals, such as rats, skunks, raccoons, etc. Opossums do not dig into the soil, nor do they destroy property; the risk of exposure to disease is lowest with them and higher with all other mammals; and they don't have a strong scent.
In terms of tax dollars, the cost is...
loss of North America's only marsupial, and the Earth's oldest
surviving mammal family.
significant amounts of public funds and staff time spent by
animal control agencies, removing and/or killing opossums;
the loss of these resources, which might have been better used
for other purposes, such as rescuing stray or injured animals or impounding
learn to live in harmony with our remaining wildlife species.
remember that it's still nice to quot;stop and smell the roses
quot;, and watch an occasional opossum waddle by.
Benefits of Membership in the National Opossum Society
An expansive initial membership packet containing all past through present known health, diet, and medical information.
Periodic newsletter, from which members copy articles and add to the initial information packet to keep it current and usable.
Access to the best source of on-going and new knowledge
concerning proper care of the opossum. Information from veterinarians and
other recognized experts concerning: wild infants through adults and captive/
long term non-releasables.
Orphan Care Information-; quot;tinies quot; through release.
We believe that only individuals working under direct
supervision of experienced orphan care-givers should have charge of
these little souls. Their fragile lives are too easily lost by many
well-meaning but novice care-givers.
Membership is available for $25/year. Orphan care information is available in a separate handbook at an additional cost of $10.
We have a membership application form online!
Our principles and goals are:
Serve as a nationwide resource for current and correct diet, medical, and general knowledge of opossums.
Educate ourselves and share knowledge with others on all aspects of the proper care of opossums.
Educate the public concerning the benefits of the opossum in the environment.
Work with all agencies to improve management and handling of opossums in the environment
For more information than is contained in these pages, please write:
National Opossum Society
Post Office Box 21197
Catonsville, MD 21228
Drawings and photographs on these Pages are copyrighted! Other materials may be copied for personal use, but may not be sold. Reference must be attached to articles, and their content unaltered. Please write to us for permission to reprint articles, electronically or in print.
The National Opossum Society is an all-volunteer not-for-profit, tax-exempt charity, founded December 5, 1986.
The National Opossum Society and the Opossum Society of the United States,
while both founded by Dr. Henness, are separate groups. This Web Site is for the group most recently led by the late Dr. Henness, the National Opossum Society.
Thank you for visiting our Web Site. We hope you will visit again soon.
REMEMBER!!! If you need immediate help with orphaned or injured opossums,
please visit Orphan Care or call our advisors.
A Word on Opossums in Research Facilities
The National Opossum Society exists for the benefit and improvement in care of the Didelphis genus, particularly Didelphis virginiana and Didelphis marsupialis.
Within institutions such as universities where opossums are kept captive for research projects of questionable value, they are rarely given the most basic care they require to live healthy lives.
Their habitat requirements are not met at all in quot;pure quot; research.
Wildlife experiences extreme stress under these circumstances, and thus are
not going to remain healthy for long.
The National Opossum Society supports clinical research that strives to
improve the health of the Didelphis genus or the individual
opossum. Other research that intends to extrapolate data to benefit another
species is not endorsed or supported in any way.
NATIONAL OPOSSUM SOCIETY PHOTOGRAPHS, GRAPHICS, DRAWINGS, AND ARTICLES ARE COPYRIGHTED. READERS ARE WELCOME TO COPY OUR LITERATURE FOR THEIR INDIVIDUAL USE, BUT MAY NOT SELL IT. REFERENCE MUST BE ATTACHED TO ARTICLES AND THEIR CONTENT UNALTERED. PLEASE WRITE TO US FOR PERMISSION TO REPRINT ARTICLES IN OTHER PUBLICATIONS, INCLUDING ELECTRONIC ONES. WE RARELY REFUSE PERMISSION; BUT DUE TO POTENTIAL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT ISSUES, WE MUST HAVE A SPECIFIC AND WRITTEN REQUEST. WE RESERVE EXCLUSIVE AND ABSOLUTE RIGHTS OVER ALL USE AND SALES OF OUR DRAWINGS, LITERATURE, PRODUCTS, ETC, SINCE 1986.
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Copyright copy; 1997-2015 National Opossum Society
Photo Credits: Paula Arms, Steve Finney, Mindy Washington