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May 3, 2011

Mama Opossum, Babies Freed from Rusty Tire Rim

In a story worthy of Mother's Day, South Florida Wildlife Center rescues an opossum family stuck inside a tire

by Julie Hauserman

A mama opossum with a full pouch of newborns was probably looking for food or a quiet place to rest when she spotted the narrow opening in a discarded wheel. Trouble was, she climbed halfway in and got stuck.

When animal-rescue ambulance drivers from The Humane Society of the United States’ South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., showed up and saw her head poking through the wheel, they realized the opossum wasn’t budging. They loaded up the wheel with the opossum still in it and took them both back to the Wildlife Center.

That’s when the Wildlife Center staff went to work freeing the mama and protecting her tiny babies.

“We sedated her, because this was very stressful for her,” says Dr. Stefan Harsch, director of clinic operations for the Wildlife Center. “We removed all the babies in her pouch and kept them safe. When we got her out, she was pretty much unharmed. There were a few minor abrasions, and she needed to be cleaned off.”

“We put the babies back in the pouch, and she was given some pain medication and some antibiotics, just in case,” Harsch said. “She got lucky. She would have died an awful death and her babies as well.”

After a two-week recuperation, mama and her babies were released back into the South Florida wild on April 5.

“When we released her, she headed right for a fence – and almost got stuck in it! Fortunately, she got out,” Harsch reports.

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