Save Injured Possums with this Simple Wildlife Rescue Kit
Save Injured Possums with this Simple Wildlife Rescue Kit-
With this simple wildlife rescue kit, you too can save the life of injured possums or other small critters. Have you ever noticed an injured or dead possum or another wild critter in the street or on the side of the road? Did you know that if rescued in time, some of these helpless animals can be saved? There are many wildlife rehabbers in your area who are waiting for injured animals to be brought to them so they can help them and potentially save their life. Many of the injured animals that they help are eventually released back into the wild once they have healed and are strong enough. If the animals cannot be released due to the nature of their injuries, the rehabbers will care for the animals and give them the best life possible.
It’s Baby Season for Possums and Other Wildlife
Possums are marsupials- this means that they carry their babies in a pouch, much like a kangaroo or a koala. Possums are North America’s only marsupial. There is a really good chance that the injured or dead possum you see along the road is a female. If it is, she may very well have babies in her pouch, depending on how far along her pregnancy is. These babies will not survive unless they are taken to a wildlife rehabbers right away. Sometimes the babies are older and no longer fit in her pouch, then they ride on Mom’s back. Once a possum has been hit by a car, her babies can sometimes be scattered near her. Again, unless they are rescued and taken to a wildlife rehabber, they will die as well.
You can make this simple wildlife rescue kit for your vehicle and help injured possums and their babies- it’s easy!
Start with a medium size plastic container and lid with snap-tight handles if possible. A simple cardboard box can be used as well and folded flat when not in use, but I like the security of the plastic container. Since mine is clear, I can see what’s going on inside. Whatever type you use, be sure to secure it well, as you don’t want an injured animal running around inside your car. Be sure to drill multiple holes around and on top of the container or box for ventilation.
Some items to include in your Wildlife Rescue Kit are:
- Flashlight – Most animals are hit between dusk and dawn and having a flashlight will make your search easier just in case the injured animal is able to make it to a ditch or into some bushes or brush by the roadside. Using your car headlights pretty much limits your search area to just what’s in front of you.
- Leather gloves – A good pair of leather gloves will protect you from an injured animal. An injured animal is a scared animal and may bite in self-defense. They may not realize right away that you are trying to help them.
- Plastic gloves – These are great for picking tiny babies or rescuing baby possums from their momma’s pouch if she has passed away. Any animal can carry bacteria and may excrete bodily fluids, so it’s a good idea to have a pair of these on hand. (My personal thought on removing babies from a deceased momma is to NOT remove them unless absolutely necessary! Leaving them inside while you transport the momma to a rehabber will preserve their body heat and let them feed until her milk dries up. You may want to check with a rehabber first, but that’s how I feel- you know how it feels to get the covers pulled off of you when you’re all toasty warm…that’s probably what it would feel like to tiny babies being removed from the warmth of their momma’s pouch.)
- Towels – Towels have multiple uses- once you find the injured animal, you need to catch it. A towel is a great way to catch an animal- just throw the towel over the animal quickly and scoop it up. Towels also make great beds and blankets for the animal once it’s in your container. Cover the animal to keep it warm.
- Pliers – It’s great to have some pliers on hand in case the animal gets stuck on a barbed wire or metal fence.
- First aid kit – Although you’re taking precautions and being as safe as you can be, sometimes wild animals are very determined to get away. There is a possibility that you could get scratched or bitten in the process. It’s a good idea to have a basic first aid kit on hand, just in case. You can make your own- just include some bandages, gauze pads and tape, antibiotic ointment, alcohol prep pads or antiseptic towelettes and maybe some aspirin.
- Fluorescent vest – This is not a bad idea as your safety has to come first! You don’t want to end up in the hospital while trying to help an injured animal- be careful around moving traffic.
- Phone number list – Take the time to find out the phone numbers of the rehabbers and animal rescue groups in your area or nearby areas that you travel frequently. I stored all of the various numbers in my phone under Wildlife Rehabbers so that I can find them quickly. Please contact the rehabbers rather than animal control because in some states in the US animal control will put the animal down rather than saving its life and the lives of the babies.
Please follow these tips before attempting to rescue an injured animal:
- Do not attempt to rescue the animal unless you are confident that you can do it without harming yourself and that your actions will save the animal. (Please do not run out on a 4-lane highway or another busy roadway, or in front of vehicles or trains to rescue the animal- your life comes first!)
- Wild animals may bite or scratch out of fear when you try to pick them up. Always wear leather gloves and use a towel if needed. Have your box or container nearby to minimize carrying them.
- Do not pick up snakes or bats- always call an expert!
- Please do not feed the animal or try to give it water- that is the last thing they need right now. Let the rehabbers feed and hydrate the animal, as they know best what the animal needs and can give it specialized care.
- As big as your heart is, I know many of you, including myself, would love to take the animal home, help it and keep it as a pet. But please, do not keep the animal and try to treat it and raise it yourself! It is actually illegal in many localities and you are doing the animal a disservice by not getting it to a trained rehabber. Only a trained specialist can give the animal the care they need, including medical care, antibiotics, vitamins, special diets and regulating their body temperatures. Additionally, possums require special diets or else they can develop MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) which is extremely harmful and possibly fatal to them.
- If you’re going to take the time to check on the injured animal, always check for babies in the pouch of a female possum or around the animal. The babies may have gotten knocked off or separated from their momma. Always check possums even though you may think they are dead, as the babies may still be alive. Baby possums when first born are only about the size of a bumblebee so check carefully so you don’t miss them.
If you’d like to learn more about possums and helping them, please check out many of the possum rehabbers on Instagram or Facebook. One of my favorite rehabbers is Chichiopossum on Instagram. Please check out her page as she is raising multiple possums and their babies and even some orphaned possum babies. One of the mommas has 10 babies and I’ve been watching them grow up since they were born. It’s so amazing to watch them grow! There are so many things I’d like to share with you about her and her work, as well as photos of Bella and her 10 babies, along with the 9 orphaned babies that she’s raising, that it requires another post. I will, however, give you a sneak peek at Bella and her babies.
After reading this post, I hope that you are becoming more comfortable with possums and realize they are not as scary as you may have thought. I hope that you will consider creating a Wildlife Rescue Kit for your car or truck and that you will stop the next time you see an injured or deceased possum along the side the road. You could be saving a life, or ten! Thank you in advance for any possums or other wildlife that may be saved because you took the time to stop and check on it. Please watch for more information about Chichiopossum, Bella and her ten babies in an upcoming post.
In the meantime, keep those bird feeders full and Happy Birding! ~ Karen