What can you feed baby possums

What Do Possums Eat? Can You Feed Baby Possums?


Home > Big Impact > Community

Source: Getty Images

If you find a baby possum abandoned on the side of the road somewhere, you probably shouldn’t pick them up before calling animal control. But what happens if you have no choice but to take them home to nurse them back to health? You might find yourself with an adorable conundrum on your hands. You might even find yourself wondering a few things about possum biology and behavior. For instance: can you feed baby possums? Should you feed them? And either way, what do possums eat? 

Article continues below advertisement

Source: Getty Images

What kind of possum are we talking about?

If you’re from Australia, a possum is a very different animal from the one Americans keep referring to as possums. What we are talking about is the opossum, America's only marsupial, and one that possesses very few similarities to its Aussie cousin. There are 65 different species of opossum in North America, according to the Opossum Society. The most common of these many marsupials is the Virginia opossum, which is the one we shall focus on today. 

Article continues below advertisement

What do possums eat?

Frankly, when it comes to the opossum, the question “what do they eat?” doesn’t really seem appropriate. It might be more appropriate to ask “what don’t they eat?” Opossums have always had a bit of a bad reputation among suburban residents for being scavengers — which, of course, they are. But that doesn’t mean we should hold it against them. Especially because their versatile diets actually help us get rid of carrion (decaying dead animal bodies).

Source: Getty Images

Article continues below advertisement

According to pest control company Terminix, opossums eat everything from dead animals to insects, rodents, birds, frogs, plants, fruit, and grain. They don’t just feed on the flesh of carrion or roadkill either. Possum diets require a high degree of calcium, which they can get from eating the skeletal remains of rodents and other dead creatures. Opossums will also eat cat food, dog food, and table scraps from our garbage cans. Unfortunately, it is this “taste for trash” that makes them more of a pest than a helper in the eyes of many. 

How do possums eat so many different things?

Opossums are scavengers by evolution and opportunity. They are nocturnal but possess poor eyesight, which doesn’t really help when it comes to trying to find food. Luckily, they make up for this with great hearing and a very keen sense of smell. This has made them fairly successful opportunists, especially when they find themselves living in and around suburban and rural communities. 

Article continues below advertisement

These remarkable marsupials possess other positive traits as well — though we will admit that most of these also have to do with them finding food. Opossums don’t just find food well, they can also remember where it is located for the next time. According to Landscape Architecture Magazine, possums scored higher than rats, rabbits, cats, and dogs in laboratory tests meant to recall where food was placed. That’s why it’s so hard to get rid of possums on your own — they remember where you keep the goods!

Source: Getty Images

Article continues below advertisement

What do baby possums eat?

Adults may be great at scavenging, but baby opossums are not nearly as well-equipped. Like all marsupials, opossum mommies lack a placenta, so their young must grow and be kept in a pouch. Newborn opossums are about the size of a honey bee and will stay in their mother’s pouch for around 80 days before they are mature enough to begin scavenging on their own. 

What to feed baby possums?

Once they are big enough to leave the pouch, baby possums can eat just about everything. You can feed them dog and cat food in moderation. You could also feed them insects like cockroaches, worms, slugs, and snails (one of their favorite foods). This is only pertinent if the baby is old enough, of course, and with an orphaned opossum, that isn’t always known. 

Article continues below advertisement

Source: Getty Images

According to the blog WildHeart, baby possums do not thrive on milk. For one, marsupial milk is very different from cow’s milk or formula. On top of that, baby possums don’t suckle like other animals, so attempting to bottle feed could cause them to aspirate and die. The point we’re trying to make here is that you, reader, are likely ill-equipped to feed or care for a baby possum on your own. 

Should I feed a baby possum?

No, you really, really shouldn’t — not without some guidance, anyway, If you find a baby possum, either alone or attached to their deceased mother, you should contact your local animal control, veterinarian, or animal rescue right away. If the baby possum is alone and walking in the wilderness and you can’t help yourself, get a box with towels or old shirts, along with a wrapped heating pad or water bottle, and get them to an animal expert as quickly as possible. That is the best way to help them. 


More from Green Matters

Latest Community News and Updates


    5 Things Baby Possums Like to Eat Most (Diet, Care & Feeding Tips)

    It is easy to be touched by the sight of a cute and cuddly baby possum. You may come across one who has become detached from its mother or has otherwise lost its way. If you are to help the little fur baby survive, it is important to learn a little about how to nourish and care for it.

    Table of Contents

    • Baby Possum Habits and Biology
    • Do baby possums eat dirt?
    • What do baby possums like to eat most?
    • Food You Should Avoid Feeding Baby Possums
    • Tips to Feed Baby Possums
    • FAQ
    • Summary

    Baby Possum Habits and Biology

    Female possums are without a placenta. They carry their babies in a pouch between 80 and 100 days until they are big enough to leave.

    Possums are scavengers. A baby possum is about the size of a honey bee when it is first conceived and will not leave the mother’s pouch until it can scavenge on its own.

    The possum is a nocturnal creature with poor eyesight but excellent hearing and a keen sense of smell. This gives it some advantages when trying to survive in a human habitat. Possums forage for food while humans sleep, and they are more alert to potential threats in the dark as they rely more on sound than sight.

    As scavengers, possums are not very good. However, what they lack in skill they make up for in memory. Once they have a hit scavenging jackpot, they remember where it is and return to it again and again to feed.

    Although possums do not hibernate, they do slow down in winter. They burrow themselves into holes that they fill with leaves or whatever else they can find to keep themselves warm. Their fur and fat reserves also help keep the chill out.

    And here is a fun fact. Ever wonder where the phrase “playing possum” comes from? It refers to the fascinating defense mechanism possums used to protect themselves against predators.

    When possums are frightened or harmed, they go into a kind of catatonic state. They freeze, paralyzed with fear, and sometimes lay down as though dead.

    A baby possum who is left unharmed will usually recover from this state after a few hours.

    Do baby possums eat dirt?

    No. Possums are omnivorous and survive by eating a wide-range of foods. Dirt is not among them.

    What do baby possums like to eat most?

    Once a possum is mature enough to scavenge on its own, it will do so. Baby possums are not picky about what they eat. Evolution has given them the ability to make the best of what’s around.

    One little known fact about possums is their high need for large amounts of calcium. It is why they will eat the remains of rodents and roadkill. Here are some of the other things that baby possums like to eat most:

    1. -They are especially fond of snails. They will also eat insects, including ants, cockroaches and the like.
    2. -Plants. If you are taking care of a possum or have spotted a few rummaging around your house (remember, they will remember where food is once they have found it), then you should keep your potted plants at an elevated level and build a fence around your garden plants.
    3. -Fruits and grain. Baby possums are likely to eat low-hanging fruit from trees or fruit that has fallen to the ground. But they will also climb a tree to get at the fruit.
    4. –Frogs. If you have any around your house, you are unlikely to be burdened by the noise they make for very long if there are possums around.
    5. -Dog food, cat food, and scraps. It is said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The aphorism can certainly be extended to possums. They are known for rummaging around trash looking for discarded food and containers with minute quantities of food in them.

    The bottom line is that baby possums will eat nearly anything they can find. Accessing source of food is not a typical problem for them. Their sharp sense of smell gives them the ability to track down the exact location of the food.

    They have sharp claws that enable them to dig up the ground when necessary. Their sharp claws and long tail also give them the ability to climb trees to get what they need.

    Food You Should Avoid Feeding Baby Possums

    As was stated above, possums eat just about anything. However, you should take care when feeding baby possums. Unless you have the education and training, you are unlikely to be able to tell the exact age of a baby possum.

    If you find it rummaging through animal remains or discarded trash, it is probably old enough to have left its mother’s pouch and scavenge on its own. However, the possum may be small enough to look like a baby in your eyes, and you may want to feed it milk.

    This is the wrong thing to do. Marsupial milk differs considerably from other animal milk or formula. Additionally, possums don’t suckle like human beings. Trying to feed them like you would your own baby can cause them to aspirate and die.

    Here are a couple of other things you should avoid:

    • Don’t feed an injured or orphaned baby possum

    Feeding them the wrong kind of milk can cause a deadly and irreversible metabolic bone disease to develop in them. Feeding a malnourished and dehydrated baby possum can cause a shock to their system and kill them.

    • Don’t force-feed a baby possum

    If a possum is old enough to have left its mother’s pouch, it is old enough to find its own food and eat it. You can leave out scraps or even insects and slugs for it to eat. The possum will do so in its own time.

    Tips to Feed Baby Possums

    In general, it is best to leave a baby possum alone—even if it has been separated from its mother. Most baby possums only look tiny, fragile and helpless. In reality, they may not be as young and vulnerable as they appear.

    In fact, any possum that seems able to get around pretty good under its own power is probably a juvenile possum. And the latter are perfectly capable of surviving on their own.

    You should know that in most states it is illegal to care for possums unless you are a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. However, if you have come across a baby possum—an actual baby—that has somehow become separated from its mother, then you can offer temporary care in the form of feeding.

    You should warm the infant baby possum before attempting to feed it. You must stimulate it before the feeding by lightly rubbing its genital areas with a warm and moist cotton ball.

    You can feed the baby possum Esbilac over a 24-hour period. However, this should be dispensed using a dropper or syringe.

    If the baby possum seems a little too large to be a baby but it seems injured, you can feed offer it water in a shallow bowl or jar lid. The possum is likely to defecate in it, so you will need to change the water often.

    For more explicit guidance, watch this video:

    Remember, the best place for a wounded or orphaned possum in a clinic or refuge run by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.


    1. How long can baby possums go without food?

    Like most animals, baby possums cannot survive long without food. They are unlikely to live more than a few days without proper sustenance.

    2. When do baby possums eat solid food?

    When they are between 3 to 5 months old.

    3. Can baby possums eat cat food?

    You can feed them cat and dog food in moderation.

    4. Can baby possums eat apples, bananas, and other fruit?

    Yes. Possums eat fruit of all kinds.

    5. What do baby possums eat in captivity?

    If they are mature enough to eat sold food, you can feed them just about anything. Snails is among their favorite foods.

    6. What do baby possums eat in the wild?

    Baby possums are scavengers, and will eat anything they can find and get access to—from plants to roadkill.

    7. What do baby possums eat in New Zealand?

    Possums have been filmed eating the eggs, chicks, and adults of birds that are native to New Zealand.

    8. What do baby possums eat in Australia?

    Possums in Australia have a high tolerance for toxins in certain plants and will eat some that other animals find poisonous.

    9. Can baby possums eat carrots?

    Yes. They eat vegetables of every kind.

    10. Can baby possums eat baby food?

    Possums can eat baby food when they have started on solids.


    Baby possums are adorable little creatures. But they are tougher and more resilient than other young animals. It is best to let an orphaned baby possum alone. If it seems in distress, you should follow the guidelines above to care for it, and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.

    House Possum | zoo-ekzo.com- Exotic animals

    Monodelphis Domestica

    is not available

    House Opossum ( Monodelphis Domestica

    000 000 0002 000 0002 000 0002 000 0002 000 0002 000 0002 – bare-tailed opossums


    Height 6-8 cm, body length – 28-25 cm, tail 7-8 cm. Weight of males 90-150 g, females 80-100 g. larger, more muscular than females, males' fur is thicker, longer, more wavy. nine0003

    Hairline short, dense. The coloration is dark gray, lighter on the abdomen. The muzzle is elongated and pointed. The eyes are small, protruding. The tail is not very long, prehensile, almost completely devoid of hair, except at the base where it is thickened with deposits of fat. The limbs are shortened, five-fingered; the rear ones are slightly longer than the front ones. The bag in which the cub develops in other marsupials is absent. The twelve nipples are arranged in a ring.


    The species is distributed in eastern and central Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Opossums inhabit forests of various types. They lead a terrestrial lifestyle. They can climb trees quite well. Nests are built in shelters, inside empty hollows, in the trunks of fallen trees or among stones, and, as a rule, near water. nine0003

    In nature

    Activity mainly in the evening and at night.

    Opossums are solitary animals. Animals do not tolerate the presence of individuals of the same species nearby and enter into a fight. Conflicts rarely end in serious injury.

    The diet of house opossums includes insects, small rodents, succulent fruits, seeds and carrion. In a human dwelling, animals hunt rodents and insects - therefore they are welcome guests in houses. This is a fairly active predator and a very skilled scorpion hunter. nine0003

    Warning and threatening sound signals are typical: “Cican”, hiss; chattering teeth.


    There is no breeding season. Females bring no more than four litters per year. Pregnancy lasts 14-15 days, there are usually 5-12 cubs in a litter. Only the female takes care of the brood. Since the possum is not developed in house opossums, unhooking from the nipple, the cubs end up in the nest, where the female leaves them. She returns only to warm and feed the cubs. At the age of 4 weeks, the cubs can already move independently. Sexual maturity is reached at 4-5 months. The ability to reproduce remains in males up to 39-months of age and up to 28 months - in females.


    Opossums are easily tamed in captivity and become completely undemanding. They like to sit on their hands and on their heads - an instinct from childhood when they traveled on their mother's back.

    The cage in the house must be mandatory, first of all, to protect the animal itself. A personal house and a cage is their territory, which they will protect and feel at ease on it.

    Opossums are solitary animals that in nature meet with a partner only during the breeding season. Long-term joint keeping of males and females excludes the birth of cubs, and keeping with a pregnant female can cause the death of a male. Therefore, in captivity, heterosexual animals live not only in separate cages, but even in different rooms, so that they cannot smell each other.

    Potty training for possums is no more difficult than for a cat or a ferret. Place the tray next to their sleeping place, as well as in those rooms where you release the animal. nine0003

    Opossums do not require frequent bathing. A healthy opossum has no odor. Opossums are quite clean animals and they themselves monitor the cleanliness of their skins.

    The animal should be kept away from warming means (battery, microwave oven, refrigerator), protected from drafts, as well as from direct sunlight.

    The life expectancy of opossums directly depends on their diet. Possums will not live long if they are fed only factory-made food. The diet of the opossum should consist of natural fresh or frozen foods, but in no case from prepared foods. Also, the opossum should not be fed beef and pork. nine0003

    In captivity, the animal is given chicken meat, insects, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, bone meal, a small amount of fruit and newborn mice.

    The cage should be cleaned as often as possible (at least once a week). Opossums need constant access to water.

    Possum is a nocturnal animal, they sleep during the day. True, domestic opossums often adapt to the rhythm of the owner's life.

    Also, opossums have a low body temperature - and because of this, they do not get fleas. nine0003

    Life expectancy in captivity is 5-8 years.

    How to "play possum"? | Animals

    Moreover, during the entire time of their existence (beginning from the Cretaceous period - the era of dinosaurs), opossums even outwardly almost did not change. The same rat-like appearance, disheveled fur, bare pink paws, ears and tail, and a wide mouth with sharp teeth. Like rats, possums are tenacious, cunning, and thieving creatures. Suffice it to recall the desperate and impudent brothers - Crash and Eddie - from the film "Ice Age-2". Opossums are practically omnivorous - their diet includes fruits, worms, insects, frogs, even chicks. Those of us who are not particularly squeamish may find that the meat of the opossum itself is quite edible. nine0003

    Mine Reed "The Headless Horseman":
    "Damn it, you're a black man! Next time, Pluto, when I wander into these parts, I will give you an opossum with meat as tender as that of a two-year-old chicken.

    But one quality of this animal deserves special attention. In the vocabulary of Americans, you can find the expression: "Stop playing possum", which in our opinion sounds like "Stop pretending to be a felt boot, pretending." nine0003

    The fact is that when the animal is in immediate danger (like being attacked by a dog), it often uses a proven technique - it pretends to be a corpse. At the same time, he pretends to be very convincing: his eyes turn glassy, ​​his tongue falls out, foam flows from his mouth, and an unpleasant smell flows from the anal glands. Scientists are still guessing - what is it: a skillful "acting" game or a stressful state of catalepsy, in which even the heartbeat slows down? nine0003

    It is said that if necessary, the opossum can imitate the finale of Hamlet for up to several hours. As soon as the danger disappears, the animal begins to “come to life” - it turns over, carefully looks around with its black eyes, after which it gives a goose.

    P. G. Wodehouse “Keep it up, Jeeves!”:
    “One of the great lessons of life is that when a man hears a fight between two females, a man should go into a corner and curl up in a ball, better yet, use the clever tactics of the possum, who pretends to be dead as soon as the air smells of fried, and sometimes goes so far as to gather around his friends and make them lament over his body. nine0092

    D. Harris "Uncle Remus Tales":
    "- Tell stories, Possum Brer. As the dog touched you, you immediately tumbled and pretended to be dead.

    — So I tell you, Brother Raccoon, that it is not at all from fear. There is only one thing I am afraid of in the world - it is tickling. And when this dog poked its nose into my ribs, I laughed, and the laughter made me laugh so much that I couldn’t move my hand or foot! Of course, it's her luck that I'm ticklish, otherwise a minute more and I would have torn her to shreds. I'm not afraid of any fight, Brother Raccoon, but tickling is another matter. I agree to fight with anyone, but only - mind you - without tickling. nine0003

    F. Krivin:
    “The opossum pretends to be dead so cleverly that he even falls from a tree and can no longer tell whether he is dead or alive.

    What do you think, is it so easy to figure it out? When you've been faking all your life, all you know is that you're faking, how can you say with certainty - are you a possum or no longer a possum? nine0003

    Since Australia was discovered much later than America, it was the opossum that became the first marsupial that European civilization met. The Columbus expedition delivered an unusual animal directly to the royal palace. The Spanish monarchs - Ferdinand and Isabella - personally made sure that the female opossum had a bag and did not even disdain to put their hand in it.

    Ciez de León Chronicle of Peru, 1553:
    “…there were seven cubs near her, and as she heard a noise, she opened the bag placed by nature on her own abdomen, and she very quickly gathered the cubs, running away with great agility, so that I was afraid for her existence - being so small, to run with such a burden - and still run away. They call this animal Chucha.

    As in the case of kangaroos, for a long time people could not believe that tiny premature opossum cubs are born in the usual way - from the genital opening, and only then get to the pouch. Among the local residents of America, there was even a belief about the "immaculate conception" of these animals - they say, the male and female simply rub their noses, after which the embryos immediately grow in the bag directly from the nipples. nine0003

    In fact, premature opossums do the same marathon as kangaroos - clinging to the wool, crawling from the birthplace to the feeding area. There are only thirteen nipples in the bag, so if more cubs are born, only the thirteen most agile get the right to live.

    When the cubs grow up, they leave the pouch, but at the same time they do not leave their mother for a long time. The kids just ride it like a tram, clutching the wool with their paws (and the paws of possums are very dexterous, similar to a human hand). nine0003

    D. Attenborough Life on Earth:
    “In the early 18th century, a famous painting appeared in Europe depicting a female South American possum with cubs, whose tails are neatly wrapped around the outstretched tail of the mother. The picture was copied many times, each time making changes, until, in the end, it turned out that the mother lifted her tail over her back, and the babies hang from it in a row on their tails, like passengers on a tram. When stuffed possums began to be stuffed in museums, then, naturally, they consulted from books and gave the exhibits just such a peculiar position, which further supported the widespread version. But this is just a fairy tale, of which many are told about these extraordinary creatures. nine0092

    Possum tails are indeed prehensile, but not as prehensile as people think. The cubs can still hang on one tail for some time, but it is not so easy for grown-up adults to do this, so they use the tail as a useful bonus. nine0003

    It must be said that when describing opossums, I was guided mainly by a portrait of one - the most common species - Virginia. But there are other types that are no less remarkable.

    For example, the water opossum, or swimmer, is the only marsupial adapted to an aquatic lifestyle (it is not for nothing that its hind legs are webbed). Even a female swims with a bag full of cubs. True, the bag is special - able to "tighten" with the help of a special muscle. nine0003

    Even more original is the woolly opossum. The fact is that this marsupial bag just doesn’t have it.

    Learn more