This is what the inside of the pouch looks like.
is moist. The babies have wet fur.
The day after this picture was taken the
fur was becoming fluffier as it dried.
About Opossums . . .
Inside the opossum's pouch is moist. Also, the mom spends a lot of time
licking the babies to keep them clean and moist. As the babies get older,
and spend less time on the nipple, their fur dries out. Also, let them
know opossums are marsupials. The embryo emerges from the opossum's
vagina and basically has two tiny hands that are capable of grabbing the
mom's fur as they make their way into her pouch. The mom licks her fur to
make a path for the embryos to follow. Once inside the pouch, the baby
basically swallows a nipple and continues to grow. She has 13 nipples.
If a person finds an injured or dead opossum and tries to remove the
babies from her pouch, it is almost impossible to get the babies to let go
of the nipple as it is far down their throat. When a rehabber gets baby
opossums, we tube-feed them. That means we take a small feeding tube and
actually go through their mouth into their stomach and slowly inject the
milk, then pull the tube out. These babies don't suckle like a baby
raccoon or rabbit.
Something else interesting, the babies mouths are sealed shut. Only a tiny
hole is opened at the very front of their mouth where the nipple is. As
they baby gets older, the lips unseal and the baby can let go of the
nipple. It is funny to get a group of babies and some will have more of
their mouths opened then others. One sad thing, if the babies are so young
that only a tiny portion is opened, it is virtually impossible to feed
Also, opossums are very timid animals. Their wide opened toothy mouth is
all for show. When they are frightened they really do "play opossum". They
will lay down on their side and look flat and dead. They will let drool
come out of their mouth and also let an awful odor come out of their
rectum. It smells horrible. The opossum is making itself undesirable as a
meal. When the threat goes away, the opossum stands up and off it goes!
When the babies get old enough to walk around with mom, and mom decides to
move on, they hold on tight to the mom's back or some crawl back into the
pouch. They have an extremely strong grasp with their hands. Even the
little ones in rehab, if they get hold of your hair, they want to hold on
for dear life! Sometimes, if you're not careful, they help pull out the
One more thing, opossum moms do not gather the babies when she decides to
wander around finding food. It is 100% up to the baby to pay attention and
keep close to the mother. She will do her own thing independent of the
babies. It was fun watching Mum. She would wander around the yard and her
9 babies would do the same. When Mum walked to a new area, the babies
would take off running on their little legs and hop on Mum. Some would
work their way back into her pouch and some hung on wherever they could. I
knew when to wean the babies only because they started to let Mum go and
not try to catch up to her. So one by one, I'd pick up the "weaned" babies
until after about a week, all nine had left Mum.
She became a foster mother to many single orphans. Mum was a special
Opossum. She died one day and I still miss her. She was an old Opossum
when she came into rehab and had an old eye injury that left her blind in
that eye. I learned so much about Opossum's from Mum. By watching her, she
taught me what to do to help her and her little ones until she could take
back her job when she was well enough.