Seven Virginia opossum joeys removed from deceased mother

March 28, 2024

Seven Virginia opossum joeys were among the eighty-three animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a crested caracara, a barred owl, a red-bellied woodpecker, a black-crowned night-heron, a big brown bat and gopher tortoise.

A mother opossum was found deceased due to a car strike by a mailbox with seven joeys in her pouch.

The resident at the address removed the joeys from their mother’s pouch and brought them to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for care. The joeys, four females and three males, were in good body condition. They also showed no obvious signs of injury and were reactive to handling.

Seven opossum joeys rest in a fleece pouch while rehabilitating at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital. The opossums’ mother was killed in a vehicle strike.

Hospital staff marked each joey with a specific color pattern on their tail, so each baby was identifiable. The joeys were placed in a soft fleece pouch in a warmed animal intensive care unit to rest. The babies received electrolytes for multiple feedings. A dilute milk replacement formula specifically made for opossums was gradually incorporated into their feedings to avoid causing intestinal upset.

Due to their young age, the joeys required several feedings throughout the day and night. By day three, the joeys were receiving full strength formula and were drinking opossum formula from bowls. Each day the opossum joeys have gained strength and weight. The babies will receive care at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital until they are grown enough to fend for themselves when released. 

The opossum mother and her babies weren’t the only opossum admissions last week.

Another mom with four babies was also admitted after being struck by a vehicle. Sadly, none of the family survived. Opossums are marsupials, which means the females have a pouch and carry their babies along with them.

If you hit an opossum or find a dead opossum on the side of the road, please check to ensure it isn’t a mother with live babies. It is very common to find an injured or dead female opossum with live babies in her pouch. If you find a mother opossum 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 ensure no babies are overlooked.

Recent Releases

A big brown bat, a gray catbird, three northern mockingbirds, an eastern cottontail, a royal tern, and two grey squirrels were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit our website to learn about volunteer opportunities at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital. Many of our seasonal volunteers will be heading north soon and the hospital is entering our busiest time of year with spring and summer baby season.

If you can give four hours a week, become a volunteer. Go to our website and fill out our volunteer application. We desperately need your help. If you are unable to give of your time as a volunteer, become a member or donate. Your support will help the Conservancy continue to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future. 

Joanna Fitzgerald is the Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, Florida 34102. Call 239-262-2273 or see