Can Opossums be Pets?
If you’ve found young abandoned opossum, you may be wondering, “Can opossums be pets?” Opossums are typically non-aggressive and can even be docile. Their seemingly passive demeanor may lead you to contemplate, “Do opossums make good pets?” if you’ve come across a young opossum you believe to be abandoned. But like all wildlife, opossums are better left in nature and not in captivity.
Despite the fact that many opossums may meet their fate as road kill due to their slow moving suburban/urban habits, opossums are a successful species and their marsupial relatives (metatherians) have been around since the dinosaur age. One reason for the survival of opossums is their versatile diet. Opossums are omnivores and eat just about anything out in the wild. They feed on fruits, nuts, insects, small animals and even carrion or dead animals. It may be difficult to find the right balance in their diet in captivity. In addition, opossums are used to walking up to half a mile in search of food, which allows them to get plenty of exercise. If they are being kept as pets, they could become overweight and potentially unhealthy. In addition, opossums are solitary animals and may not get along with other animals. If you have existing pets (e.g., dog, cat), an opossum may not be a great addition. If you are asking, “Can opossums be pets?” maybe the better questions revolve around how well you can maintain their natural lifestyle, and if you’d want to.
Can You Have an Opossum as a Pet? The Legalities
Even if you find an abandoned and/or injured opossum that you’re considering making your pet, some states will not allow this to occur. In many cases, wildlife permits are required to have a wild animal reside in your home and these permits may only be issued for rehabilitation purposes. In which case, if you find a young abandoned opossum, you may be allowed to keep it until it’s healthy enough to survive on its own. You would then be expected to return the animal back to its natural habitat. If you choose to bring an opossum home, a permit is also required to seek medical assistance for the animal. It may be difficult – maybe even impossible – to find a licensed vet who will examine such wildlife.
What to Do if You Find an Opossum
If you find an opossum in the wild it is recommended that you do not try and handle it yourself. Opossums may carry pathogens that can cause human diseases such as leptospirosis, tuberculosis, relapsing fever, tularemia, spotted fever, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis, trichomoniasis, and Chagas disease. They may also be carriers of various parasites like fleas, ticks, mites and lice that can impact public and/or veterinary health. Handling an opossum may mean putting yourself, your family or your pets at risk.
Instead of trying to make an opossum your new family pet, consult a wildlife technician. Experienced professionals can help you safely remove and/or exclude opossums from your property. Keep your home, and yourself safe, and contact Terminix® today.