However, take note that it is not as easy as picking up an unfortunate opossum off the road and nursing him back to health. Laws on rescuing possums vary from state to state, and it is never a good idea to precariously flirt with the rules. The best and most sensible thing to do under these circumstances is to contact the National Opossum Society, and seek advice. If this isn't possible, carry the injured animal to the nearest animal shelter. Whatever you do, ensure that you're following state laws regarding treatment of possums.
If, for some reason, it does fall on you to take care of orphaned opossums, given below is a list of things you need to be mindful of.
► If the female is dead, and the babies are alive, carry the female along instead of removing the babies from the pouch individually. Being marsupials, possum babies have their mouths stuck to their mother's teat, and it can be difficult to dislodge them.
► If you are unaware or are inexperienced with handling small animals, wear gloves while picking the injured animal, as it may get aggressive and try to bite you. In such cases, it is best to carry them to the nearest shelter.
► The frequency of these feeds should be once every 2 - 3 hours, and it should be done carefully, drop by drop.
► You can keep the babies in a cardboard box lined with paper and a soft cloth. You can place a hot water bottle within to keep them warm. Remember, too much heat is not good for them, so do not place them close to heat lamps.
► You will notice that the possum babies do not lick milk or water from a bowl or a spoon, as they are not mentally equipped to do so. As far as possible, keep feeding them with the dropper, dripping the liquid straight into their mouths. Remember, this takes a long time and a lot of patience.
► Toilet training is next among the inevitable. Baby possums need to be coaxed a bit to be able to do their business. Use a moist ball of cotton or a soft tissue to rub them very gently on their belly and abdomen. This will provide the necessary stimulation for them to do the deed. Also, they will continue needing assistance until they attain the age of about 2 months and over.
► Possums have a tendency to bite whenever they feel threatened. This happens even when they are accustomed to your touch―they will bite you even if they are startled, and this does happen a lot. Their mouth is a haven for bacteria, and a bite is very likely to cause a serious infection, especially in case of those who have a weakened immune system.
► The best thing to do is to care for them, but only until they reach the age of 12 - 13 weeks, or are 12-14 inches in size excluding the tail. This is the time when they are fully grown and ready to be released in the wild. Don't be afraid to release them, as their instincts are strong enough to help them flourish out there. Possums are not to be kept in captivity for their own good.
► Remember that possums enter into our yards and houses with the intention of obtaining food. Therefore, it is prudent to keep the trash cans covered at all times. Also, do not leave pet food out for long, especially in the night.
As cute as they may seem, possums are not your conventional pets. If you are in the dark about how to handle them, call for assistance rather than attempting to care for them yourself.