Baby Opossums: May 2009
Well, after all the rain and wind, we have been encountering a number of small birds and mammals who had been thrown out of their respective nests, but none alive until 7 A.M. on Thursday morning, May 14th. Now let me just say, that Mom usually hides from the world on May 13th, but this year the 13th of May was a perfectly lovely day with friends and sunshine. May 14th of 2009 was masquerading as the 13th...
As Mink ran out to the bus she encountered one of these on the ground, making a hissing noise. And Alexander, the Dog, found the other one. Alex may have dislodged these babies in the process of discouraging their mother from foraging in our yard, but to Alex's credit, he did not seem to have damaged the baby at all. Mom started the day with two hungry, cold, hairless, three-inch opossums.
(And for a while she thought they were squirrels...silly Mom)
After a quick consultation in the ABANDONED AND ORPHANED BABY ANIMALS book, Mom called Dad at work and asked for a new baby bottle and formula for a small mammal.
Dad, of course, rallied magnificently, and showed up with wonderful pro-bio tummy starters , a bottle, and formula. These first two photos are later in the afternoon following an exciting day of many other distractions and disasters, when Mom and the Baby Opossums had gone to school for the Band Spring Concert...Mom wrapped them up and bundled them in the hem of her sweat shirt for the concert to keep them warm, and the friends helped with the feedings before and after the concert.
FRIDAY, MAY 15th, 2009
Fortunately for Mom there was no lack of volunteers on Friday, and the replacement of the old hot water bottle with water drinking bottles full of hot water under the blankets has made the problem of regulating the temperature an easy one to solve. Here we go with the ten P.M. Feeding.
A Lou Gosset film that is a favorite of ours is ENEMY MINE (click the name of the movie for the Amazon link). Mom has been feeling alot of kinship to that film for the past 24 hours or so. Especially since the squirrels ATE one of the bird feeders on Wednesday.(...varmints are not usually favored around here....)
Not the Bird Feed, the adult squirrels ate the Bird FEEDER.
Nonetheless, we intend to do our best to preserve the lives of these two fellows.
The book we consulted said that these two little opossums may be very difficult to feed, as they need their feedings so often and in such small quantities. They were pretty resilient, to be out on the ground in the wind and rain, survive in the open for hours, and managed to get through examination by a 120 lb. dog and a number of teenage girls. More pictures as they are taken. These are the first two days of Minks opossum 'Motherhood'.
Saturday Morning, May 16, 2009
Saturday Morning with the young ladies, feeding the tiny babies
Sunday, May 16th
Well, we are down to one baby Opossum. Tough as they were, the whole experience of being cared for by non-marsupial parents, kindly as they were, was just not the same as Mother. But onward and upward. The survivor is beginning to have fur and is active and warm. The little one that didn't make it never did feel warm, even though we did everything we could think of to warm him. The one-hour feeding intervals are challenging to creatures who usually sleep four to eight hours at a stretch....us.
Later that same day....
Well, we worked today to keep the remaining baby warm, fed smaller quantities, and attempted to correct his diet, but to no avail. We lost the second one Sunday evening. After much consultation we have been advised that baby opossums are among the most difficult babies to save, due to the extraordinary way they are cared for inside the marsupial's pouch: Constant access to food and warmth. These two received quite a lot of loving from the girls and Mom while they were here with us. Better, we think, than being eaten alive by one or another of the resident carnivores.
Back to the baby chickens...
From Left to right:
May, Peaches, Cream, CinnamonToastCrunch, LemonChiffon, and April.