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SFWC Nursery Handles Large Influx of Baby Opossums

The babies come through our doors in droves, but SFWC’s wildlife nursery is always ready to help the orphaned wildlife that make their way to our center

  • A few of our orphaned baby opossums snuggling in bed. SFWC

  • A few of our orphaned baby opossums snuggling in bed. SFWC

  • One of the baby opossums being examined by our wildlife nursery supervisor, Jessica Sayre Sonzogni. SFWC

  • One of the baby opossums being examined. Toby Blades

  • A few of our babies getting a sip of water. SFWC

  • Two of our orphaned babies snuggling. Toby Blades

In the world of wildlife, spring and summer months mean baby season. So needless to say, our South Florida Wildlife Center nursery has been extremely busy over the past few months.

Recently, baby opossums at our nursery have numbered in the hundreds. They come in waves—from one or two at a time to entire sibling groups of eight or nine little ones at once. Many of the single babies have been found after having fallen into a swimming pool, been caught by another animal or otherwise separated from mama. But periodically, when the mother is hit by a car or harmed some other way, we receive entire orphaned litters.

And nursery care for these little marsupials is an intensive, time-consuming process. In addition to feedings at regular intervals, our expert staff prepares specialized diets and deep-cleans enclosures where the babies eat, sleep, play and grow. Temperature and humidity must be carefully maintained—incubators are a necessity—and the pantry needs to be kept well-stocked with groceries and other supplies.

Each opossum deserves a chance. They come to us because of human-related causes, so it’s really up to us to help and give them that chance." --Jessica Sayre Sonzogni, nursery supervisor

Hand-rearing baby wildlife involves hands-on care until the animals are big enough to eat on their own, and then they are moved to our species-specific outdoor habitats designed to ready them for life on their own. As soon as they are ready, they are released back to the wild, usually with siblings or others of the same species with whom they have been reared, if possible.

To handle the high volume of animals in the nursery, SFWC must scale up human resources with specially trained volunteers. And of course, more supplies are always necessary—like igloo hide-outs and exercise wheels that must be routinely replaced due to wear-and-tear. And we’re also always in need of shallow feeding dishes (like the lid from a large peanut butter jar), linens and plastic containers.

The SFWC nursery cares for an estimated 600 baby opossums each year, with two or three big peaks annually. If you want to help, please consider making a donation, or you can help us replenish our supplies through our Amazon Gift Registry.

As our nursery supervisor, Jessica Sayre Sonzogni says, “We need to preserve the wildlife we have left in South Florida any way we can.”

Watch a video of one of the baby opossums playing on a wheel:

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