Hello & welcome to Just Answer/Pearl. I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
Now I appreciate that you are aware of the potential situation in rearing captive wildlife in your area. The reason why we tend to advocate turning wildlife over to rehabilitation centers is because they will be properly equipped for the care these wee ones (which you may also have with your wildlife history), able to ensure that the opossums receive balanced nutrition to ensure proper growth/health, often have veterinary access that you may not have, and most importantly will have the appropriate permits for legally rearing captive wildlife. And between the US having laws at the federal and state level regarding legal care of captive wildlife, I do need let you know you that if you did wish to seek out a rehabilitation center near you, you can check at: Wildlife International (LINK
), US Wildlife Rehabilitation (LINK
), Wildlife Rehabbers (LINK
), or Wildlife Sanctuaries (LINK
Otherwise, in regards XXXXX XXXXX diets for these little ones, I am a bit concerned about your current diet regime (especially your protein levels on first glance). Therefore, I will outline the regime I use for rehabilitating opossums at weaning. As we wean them off the milk, we tend to do this in phases. These phases are divided by how many formula feeds they are getting. And as we decrease the formula support, we increase the solid food's nutritional support until we are finally at the weaned stage.
Therefore, for our first phase, we tend to still offer formula 3-4 times daily but supplement with a 1/4- 1/2 cup of a diet containing 20% banana + other fruit bits, 40% chicken or turkey baby food or canned cat food (avoid beef with opossums), 20% small mice + chick bits, 20% veggies (no greens), and a sprinkle of food grade calcium carbonate.
Once we get more interest in solid food and they are ready for us to drop our formula feds to 1-2 times daily, then the diet is altered a wee bit to reflect the increasing role solid food plays in meeting their dietary requirements. In this second phase, you should offer the same volume but change the diet to 30% canned or soaked cat food, 30% mice/chick bits, 25% grapes, apples, banana, cantaloupe, or watermelon, 15% veggies (peppers, carrots, no greens) and again our sprinkle of food grade calcium carbonate.
Once they are full weaned and dependent on their solid diet, we again will tweak the diet to meet their full requirements at that life stage. And at that stage, we tend to offer fully weaned opossums 25% soaked dog food, 10% canned or soaked cat food, 30% whole mice/chicks, 15% fruit, 20% veggies (no greens) and again we continue the calcium supplement. At this stage, since there is no formula supplement, meal volume should be increased to 1 cup per full weaned opossum.
Overall, I would be a bit concerned here about the protein levels you are offering them so far. It is early days, since they are just starting to wean, but I would strongly advise modifying your diet as I have outlined to make sure you don't cause any adverse effects from nutritional deficiency. Hopefully, if you do so, we will see them continue to grow properly. And if you are struggling, then do consider at least speaking with your local wildlife folks to tap their knowledge. With your experience, you may even be able to join their group (and thus have a permit) and continue to aid wildlife has you have done.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
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