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Dr. Taus
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
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Experience:  Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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Have two orphaned opossums. They are now about 5 months old.

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Have two orphaned opossums. They are now about 5 months old. I live on a plantation in the woods and i was getting ready to release them but one is acting sick first she acted as if she had a cold she would cough some but now she's not wanting to walk she just lays around and if she does move she crawls... also the food she was eating was grape, bananas, crickets, worms, boiled eggs, and hotdogs, im sure hotdogs was not a good idea I did some research and im hoping that's not what has caused her to be sick ...

Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Taus replied 12 months ago.
Hi there,

I'm sorry to hear that your opossum isn't feeling well. It sounds as if she has either migrating parasites or a respiratory infection.

Most opossums are infected with parasites from birth or shortly thereafter from the mother. There is great variability in individual susceptibility to showing symptoms of parasites, though, so some opossums in a litter may seem fine while others get sick. It's recommended that all opossums in captivity get dewormed with injectable levamisole, but this can be hard to come by and you would need to get it from the vet. Alternatively, you can give the label dose of Panacur as you would for a dog, but be advised that opossums' GI tracts move much more quickly than other animals' do, so it may not be fully effective.

Ideally, a veterinarian or wildlife rehabber would examine your opossum, listen to her lungs, and decide if her coughing and clinical signs are consistent with pneumonia (another common cause of the signs you are describing). Antibiotic treatment is usually needed for the opossum to recover. Amoxicillin usually the antibiotic of choice, but again, you will need to obtain this from a veterinarian.

At home, I'd recommend separating her from the other opossum to avoid spreading contagious illness. Keep her in a quiet, low-stress area, and offer her food and water, but don't force her to eat. Keep the area at a controlled warmish room temperature (75 degrees or so) with about 70% humidity if possible, and minimize handling. The idea is to keep stress as low as possible, to give her the opportunity to recover.

I'd highly encourage you, at this point, to contact a vet or a rehabber in your area who can help you get her some antibiotics. It sounds as if even with your care and support, she's getting worse, not better.

I hope this is helpful. If so, please rate me positively, and don't hesitate to let me know how I can help further.
Customer: replied 12 months ago.

Thank you so very much....

Expert:  Dr. Taus replied 12 months ago.
Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have other questions I can help you with. In re: diet, opossums have an incredibly varied diet in nature. For feeding rehabbed opossums, a good place to start is:90% of diet - Puppy chow, kitten chow, baby food chicken or small pieces of chicken, turkey, or other meat. Remember they are carnivores.
5% of diet - Fruits - chopped grapes, apples, melon, banana, berries, etc.
5% of diet - Vegetables - chopped broccoli, squash, sweet potato, cottage cheese,
OTHER - Scrambled egg (with the shell), sardines, non-fat yogurt,
Natural-WILD foods - (Use as many as possible) Insects & bugs, worms, crickets, mealworms, grasshoppers, small rodents. They must be introduced to the LIVE prey
at some point before they are released.

Hot dogs are high in nitrates and sodium and not a great source of protein, but I would not expect them to cause illness by themselves.
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 454
Experience: Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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