Virginia Opossum #24-0445

Admitted
April 2, 2024
Released
May 20, 2024
Rescue Location
Albemarle County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Undetermined
Status
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

Happy Mother’s Day from the Wildlife Center of Virginia! Today, we are honoring motherhood in all shapes, sizes, and species, including one exceptional mom: Virginia Opossum #24-0445, a resilient mother to at least seven.
 
On the morning of April 2, a homeowner in Greenwood, Virginia found this adult opossum lying in her yard; the opossum had visible injuries on her face. Using a live trap, the rescuer contained the opossum and immediately brought her to the Center for medical attention.
 
Upon admission, the veterinary team found a laceration on the opossum's lower left lip extending to her jawbone, a laceration above her left eye, and a wound over her right shoulder. Further examination using radiographs revealed fractures to her ribs, sternum, and both sides of her collarbone. However, a surprise was also revealed: babies in her pouch! Once it was determined that all the few-week-old young, called “joeys”, were clinically healthy, the mother opossum was provided with supportive care, including pain medication and fluids.
 
An opossum sleeping under blankets with its foot, snout, and tail out
The following day, Senior Veterinary Intern Dr. Olivia surgically cleaned and sutured the wounds on the opossum's face and right shoulder. After recovering from anesthesia, the opossum was placed on strict cage rest to promote healing of the fractured bones and allow the vet team to monitor her wounds daily. As you can see, she welcomed this much-needed time for relaxation!
 
The opossum's sutures were removed on April 18, and the face and shoulder wounds both appeared healthy. Repeat radiographs taken on April 23 showed that the multiple fractures are also healing well. The joeys have been checked for signs of life weekly but are otherwise not handled by staff – it is best to let wildlife moms care for their babies without human interference unless absolutely necessary. The opossum will continue to be closely monitored by staff, with the hope of releasing her back to the wild before her babies leave the pouch.
 
Virginia Opossums are dedicated mothers who care for their young in various stages. Opossums breed two to three times a year between February and September, and litters can contain up to 13 joeys, each of which is about the size of a honeybee at birth. After about two and a half months, the joeys will emerge from their mother’s pouch and ride on her back as they begin to explore the outside world. After a few months of learning how to be an opossum with mom, the joeys are ready to start their independent lives.
 
To help opossums like this mom, remember to slow down when driving, especially between dusk and dawn, as opossums are most active at night. Never litter near roadways; biodegradable materials such as banana peels and apple cores will attract animals such as opossums searching for their next meal. Lastly, if you come across a young opossum you believe may need help, click here to learn how to properly assess the situation.

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Your donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this injured opossum and approximately 4,000 other patients that the Wildlife Center will help this year.

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Patient Updates

An adult opossum with its head sticking out of a crate looking at the camera

After nearly two months in care, this Virginia Opossum has made a full recovery and was released back into the wild! 

The veterinary staff continued to clean and monitor the mother opossum's wounds daily during the month following suture removal, and her wounds appeared to heal more and more every day. However, the veterinary team wanted to see new tissue grow over the entirety of her lip wound before releasing her, which required a greater amount of time in care.

It was a race against the clock to release this opossum before her babies emerged from her pouch. Luckily, likely a few days shy of her joeys emerging, this opossum's wounds had fully healed and she was released back where she was found in Greenwood, Virginia.