How to Help Opossums

As development encroaches upon once wild land, people and wildlife are forced to come into closer contact. Unfortunately, this often creates deadly hazards for our wildlife, such as the opossum. Here are some ways you can HELP the opossums.

Attack By Pets:
Problem: Dogs and cats are the main predators of urban opossums, especially young opossums. Bites can be serious leading to infections, punctured organs, broken bones, nerve damage and death.

Solution: Keep pets indoors or in the garage at night. Keep dogs on a leash. If cats must stay outdoors then fit with a collar with bells to warn the opossums. Cats do not pose a threat to adult opossums but the young opossums are at risk. If a dog must stay out at night then try to confine to a run or small section of the yard away from an area opossums may travel. Place an 8-inch diameter, 5-6 feet long PVC pipe in the yard so that the opossum can escape from a dog.

Cars:
Problem: Many opossums are killed each year on the road.

Solution: Drive slower at night, preferably in the center lane so you will have more time to react if an opossum crosses the street. Give opossums a “brake”! If you see a dead opossum on the road then move it to the side of the road, if safe to do so, and check to see if it is a female with young in the pouch. If an orphaned or injured opossum is found then contact the Opossum Society of the United States, a local wildlife rehabilitator, veterinarian, or animal shelter.

Poison:
Problem: Many opossums suffer painful deaths from poisoning.

Solution: Do not use poisons. Opossums, other animals and children may be harmed and/or killed inadvertently. Clean up any spills, especially sweet-tasting antifreeze. Do not use rat poison. If you suspect an opossum may have been poisoned then contact a veterinarian or rehabilitator immediately. It would be helpful if you have information about the poison, name, active ingredient, possible time of ingestion, and any signs or symptoms displayed by the animal.

Swimming Pool:
Problem: An opossum may drink from a pool, fall in and drown.

Solution: Keep the pool covered at night. Drape an anchored towel or rough-textured hose over the side of the pool so the opossum can pull itself out. Leave a bowl of water nearby so the opossum will not drink from the pool.

Trash:
Problem: Opossums do not wear shoes. Broken glass will cut their delicate feet. Wire, string, plastic bags and other garbage can be deadly.

Solution: Do not litter!