Virginia Opossum #13-2013

Species Name (EN): 
Species Name (LA): 
Admission Date: 
July 26, 2013
Location of Rescue: 
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Education Animal
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On July 26, 2013, the Wildlife Center admitted Virginia Opossum #13-2013 along with its three other siblings. The opossums’ rescuer found them on their dead mother, who was likely hit by a car. At that time the Center had around twenty infant opossums, most were orphans.

While the four opossums were bright, alert, and responsive, all were dehydrated and thin. While opossum #13-2013’s three siblings were basically healthy, the veterinary staff noted that #13-2013 had a severe bacterial infection in her right eye. The infant opossum was given antibiotics, and began a feeding schedule where she was tube-fed a milk replacer four times a day. While her body condition improved, her right eye did not respond to treatment. On September 1, the veterinary staff determined that the eye would need to be removed. With only one eye, the opossum would not be able to be released back into the wild; she was declared as a possible education ambassador candidate for the Wildlife Center.

Once it was decided that she would remain at the Wildlife Center, the staff began to socialize the young opossum. The Wildlife Center’s staff handled her every day and took measures to ensure that she was becoming accustomed to being handled as well as being touched on her head, body, feet, and ears.
On September 5, the juvenile opossum underwent surgery and successfully had her eye removed. While she recovered, 13-2013 received pain medication and wore an e-collar to prevent her from irritating her eye and stitches.

On September 12, her collar was removed, followed by her stitches two days later.
The young opossum began acclimating to the outdoors on September 27 for a few hours at a time to get her ready to live in her own outdoor enclosure next to the other education opossums. The young female is continuing with her training and is behaving well on the glove. If all goes well with her training, she will be named later this fall and begin participating in the Center’s many education programs.





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October 21, 2013

After several weeks of assessing the opossum’s suitability as an education animal, the Wildlife Center staff decided that opossum #13-2013 would be a welcomed addition to our team of animal ambassadors.

Opossum #13-2013 is settling into her role as an animal ambassador. Outreach coordinators Raina Krasner and Chapin Hardy have been regularly handling the young opossum to ensure that she is well-socialized and comfortable with humans. She has already learned to sit quietly in her handler’s gloved hands, and she often becomes so relaxed that she falls asleep.

On October 3, the opossum began living outside full-time in a larger education opossum enclosure near the Center’s three other education opossums – Bert, Ernie, and Thelma. In this enclosure, she has access to her exercise wheel, an enclosed box for shelter, and various logs on which to climb.

The young opossum traveled to her first public program with Raina on October 19. Raina and the opossum presented a program about the Wildlife Center’s mission to a group of adults in Harrisonburg. Opossum #13-2013 was a representative of her species and did a tremendous job of demonstrating several opossums adaptations – at one point, while Raina was discussing the number of teeth an opossum has [50], the little opossum opened her mouth in a wide yawn to show the audience all of her teeth!

The Center is thrilled to have this young opossum officially join our team of education animals, and we hope to have a name for her within the next month. Our annual gala and benefit auction will take place on November 16 – the Center tentatively plans to auction of the naming rights during the live auction. More information about the annual gala, and how you can attend, can be found here. Stay tuned for more details!