Written by Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital
Six Virginia opossums a were among the 100 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a barred owl, a snowy egret, a black-crowned night-heron, a marsh rabbit and a loggerhead sea turtle.
An adult female opossum was found on the side of the road, obviously severely injured. A passerby contained the opossum and brought her to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for care. Upon arrival at the hospital, the rescuer mentioned that two baby opossums had been killed in the road. He knew that this mother opossum had more babies clinging to her. He was extremely concerned, not only for the mother opossum but for her babies as well.
Our vet immediately worked on the opossum family. She first removed each baby from the mother and examined each one for injuries. Once the five babies were safely contained in a warmed animal intensive care unit, the mother was sedated in order to perform a full physical exam and take radiographs. The radiographs revealed the mother opossum had sustained a fractured pelvic girdle. Her right shoulder was also fractured. These injuries, as well the internal injuries the opossum had sustained, left humane euthanasia as our only treatment option.
The bright side of this story is that all five babies are thriving and will be cared for at the wildlife hospital until they are old enough to fend for themselves.
If you happen to see a dead opossum along the road or in your community, please check to ensure it isn’t a mother with live babies. Opossums are frequently injured or killed by cars, dogs and rat poison. It is very common to find an injured or dead female with live babies. Place the mother with her joeys in a box and bring her to the wildlife hospital. Staff will remove the babies from the mother and can ensure that no babies are overlooked or left behind.
A peninsula cooter, a Florida softshell turtle, a mourning dove, a northern cardinal, a brown thrasher, a red-bellied woodpecker, a common gallinule, two raccoons, a grey squirrel, four common grackles, two blue jays, two eastern screech owls and five northern mockingbirds were released this past week.
Opportunities to Help
Visit the Conservancy website at www.conservancy.org to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Volunteers help in many different capacities and are vital to the success of our work. If you think you could dedicate one shift a week to help in the hospital, contact our volunteer office and get involved. This time of year is incredibly busy with all the young wildlife being admitted. Our volunteers are vital to our mission. Your volunteer time, donations, and memberships truly help us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.
Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239–262–2273 or see conservancy.org