Jun 12, 2011

Lucky One

A few months ago, I was pulling out of our driveway and spotted a lifeless opossum in the middle of the road. Clearly, the animal was dead, but I thought to stop and check for babies. Indeed, it was a female with a pouch of young.

Opossums are marsupials, like kangaroos. The females, also called jills, have a little 'purse' where they carry their young. After a short gestation, blind, naked, jelly bean-sized baby opossums crawl into the pouch where they finish developing. Each baby latches onto a teat for nourishment.

It was early morning. The joeys had been without the warmth of their mother for quite a few hours. They, too, were 
cold and still.

I carefully removed the ones that looked like they might be revived - gently releasing them from the teats. They were about the size of a pickle and covered in short grey fur that felt damp from the moist environment of the womb.

Back at the house we immediately floated them in an open freezer bag (doubled) atop warm water while the electric heating pad was warming up. Turning them and stimulating them as you might a stillborn puppy, one of them began to stir. 

Sadly, only the one came around, and within a half an hour it began vocalizing - Chhhh Chhhh - a cry that sounds like a slight sneeze.

Next, we microwaved a wet dish towel and placed it inside a Ziploc bag (doubled). This was placed on the floor of a small container and covered with a hand towel. The joey was bundled in a separate dish towel and set in the container for transport to the SPCA for Monterey County. There he would receive rehabilitative care.

They did an amazing job! Two months later he was returned 'home'... out of the box came this magnificent looking young opossum with a beautiful thick blue-grey coat and a wild heart. Thank you SPCA for Monterey County Wildlife Center! Nice job! ~ Rebecca

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