Baby Opossum: SB Wildlife Care Network's Patient of the Week

Baby Opossum: SB Wildlife Care Network's Patient of the Week title=
Baby Opossum: SB Wildlife Care Network's Patient of the Week
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Source: Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network

Patient #3201: Baby Opossum

On July 22 Santa Barbara County Animal Services brought a baby opossum to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. The little one was found orphaned in Santa Maria. The staff did not notice any abnormalities during the opossum's initial exam –– she's a healthy baby, and just needs time to grow up before she is ready for life in the wild. 

The baby opossum weighed 52 grams when she first came in. Now, she weighs 74 grams. She will be released when she weighs around 453-500 grams and is healthy in all other respects. 

Opossums come in a variety of colors, but usually have gray, salt-and-pepper fur. Patient #3201 has an unusual dark brown coat, making her stand out from other opossums in care. She is growing up with another patient of a similar size that has light gray fur. 

The Wildlife Care Network has released 30 opossums in the past two months. 9 more opossum patients will be evaluated for release on Sunday. 

Some awesome opossum facts:
- Opossums are hugely beneficial to the ecosystem. They eat thousands of ticks per year. They even catch mice and small rats. 
- Opossums are the only native North American marsupials.
- Due to their low body temperatures, opossums are extremely unlikely to have the rabies virus. 

If you encounter an opossum in need, please call the volunteer-operated Wildlife Care Network Helpline at (805) 681-1080. You can help this baby opossum grow up in care by visiting https://www.sbwcn.org/donate

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greytfull Aug 03, 2020 08:11 AM
Baby Opossum: SB Wildlife Care Network's Patient of the Week

The Good Guys! Opossums, sometimes called possum, benefit your garden by ridding it of small insects and pests. As omnivores, opossums consume a variety of foods. This includes the beetles, slugs, and snails which damage garden plants. These nocturnal creatures also consume plant matter. In general, the opossum prefers fallen or rotting vegetation to fresh. Cleaning up dropped fruits and vegetables, which can harbor disease, is another benefit to having these creatures around.
One of the biggest benefits of opossums is their ability to control ticks. As meticulous groomers, opossums consume about 95 percent of the ticks which hitch a ride on their mammalian bodies. It’s estimated that a single opossum eliminates over 5,000 ticks from the environment each year.
Opossums hunt, kill, and eat mice, rats, and snakes (including poisonous ones). Opossums are scavengers and clean up dead animal carcasses. Opossums have a natural resistance to rabies and botulism, so they aren’t likely to spread these diseases. Opossums are immune to the toxins in bee and scorpion stings. Opossums don’t dig deep holes, but they will occupy burrows of other animals.

FondofSB Aug 02, 2020 09:36 PM
Baby Opossum: SB Wildlife Care Network's Patient of the Week

Possies are wonderful animals. They come every night in my back yard looking for anything they can get their mouth on . They're friendly to each other and never get in any fight . They're the best edible trash handlers you could find!

OpossumBoy Aug 02, 2020 12:15 PM
Baby Opossum: SB Wildlife Care Network's Patient of the Week

One of my favorite critters. I’ve had many. My favorite was my first. I found him when he was a baby, all crumpled up on the back lawn one morning. I got advice on feeding and, when he was big enough, kept him in the back yard. I built “Whiskylump” a box with a hole in the side to go in & out, and tossed a baby blanket in it. Amazingly, he hung around for the chow I gave him. It was great watching him stalk small critters like lizards. I also saw one once nail a rat, although I don’t think they’re normally in their diet.

Regarding rabies, I read a research paper showing that they could be injected with 100,000 times the amount of virus needed to kill a fox, and still not become ill. Also I’ve had many opossum bites and none ever became infected. Your mileage many vary, of course.

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