How to Care for a Newborn Opossum

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Use a cardboard box to make a warm space for a newborn oppossum.
Use a cardboard box to make a warm space for a newborn oppossum. (Image: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Proving care for an orphaned newborn opossum is a difficult job that is best handled by a professional wildlife rehabilitator. However, if you are in an area where a rehabilitation center is not available, you can attempt to give the baby the care necessary to survive. The newborn opossum will require around-the-clock attention and frequent feedings. However, even with human intervention, newborn opossums that do not have a mother to care for them often die.

Things You'll Need

  • Box
  • Bedding material
  • Heating pad
  • Puppy milk replacement formula
  • Syringe
  • Washcloth

Use body heat to warm a newly rescued opossum baby. Gently place the baby against your chest or stomach, and cover it with your shirt. When the baby has warmed up, place it in a plastic or cardboard box with a soft fabric material on the bottom.

Place a heating pad set to “Low” under half of the box and place the baby in a quiet, shaded area. Always protect the baby from being in direct contact with the heat source because they will get too hot. Monitor the temperature frequently to make sure that the babies are just slightly warm to the touch.

Feed the baby with reconstituted puppy milk replacement that you purchase from your local veterinarian or pet store. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix and feed the baby every four hours. The amount of formula given at each feeding will vary depending on the baby’s size. For opossum babies weighing 10 grams, feed .52 cc of milk replacement. For babies that are 10 to 25 grams, feed 1 cc and for babies weighing from 25 to 50 grams, feed 1.74 cc. Gradually increase the volume of food offered as the baby’s size grows and the appetite increases. Use a syringe to feed the baby by slowly injecting a small amount of the liquid into its mouth. Hold the baby in an upright position when feeding to avoid aspiration of the formula. As the baby grows older, formula may be offered in a shallow pan.

Stimulate the baby to urinate and move its bowels after each feeding. Use a warm, damp washcloth to gently massage over the baby’s lower abdominal and anal area. Baby opossum feces are yellowish brown. If it becomes watery, you may be giving too much formula or the baby may have developed enteritis.

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