Common Orphan Care Problems and Solutions                                                      HOME
Problem Symptoms Causes Solutions
  • Sunken eyes

  • Skin tents

  • Dry, scaly skin

  • Pale mucous membranes

  • Lethargic

  • Dirt in and around mouth

  • Separation from mother

  • Too much heat

  • Insufficient humidity

  • Formula too concentrated

  • Feeding before rehydrated

  • Monitor heat, humidity

  • Accurately measure formula

  • Stop formula and offer rehydrating solution over next 12-24 hours, then gradually add formula

  • Cold infant

  • Lethargic

  • Exposed to elements

  • Unable to thermoregulate

  • Insufficient heat source

  • Warm infant by placing near but not directly against heat source

  • Monitor temperature

  • Provide layers of ravel-free bedding


  • Distended abdomen

  • Uncomfortable

  • Lethargic

  • Not urinating or defecating

  • Over feeding

  • Too frequent feedings

  • Feeding cow’s milk

  • Spoiled formula

  • Failure to stimulate orphan to urinate and defecate

  • Unable to urinate or defecate

  • Punctured bladder

  • Feed smaller amounts

  • Warm infant before feedings

  • Warm infant, gently stroke abdomen

  • Do not let formula sit out at room temperature, refrigerate

  • Do not reheat unused formula, discard

  • Stop formula feeding and administer rehydrating solution for 12-24 hours, then gradually add formula

  • ALWAYS stimulate infant to urinate/defecate before or after feeding! Rub genital area with cotton ball moistened with warm water

  • Soft, runny stools
  • Feeding cow’s milk

  • Spoiled formula

  • Formula too concentrated

  •  Dirty feeding utensils

  • Parasites

  • Same as above

  • Sterilize feeding utensils after each use

  • Deworm (Contact O.S.U.S. if unsure about deworming recommendations)

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

  • Difficulty walking (frog-like)

  • Inability to grip

  • Fragile, broken bones

  • Deformities

  • Poor diet

  • Insufficient dietary calcium

  • Improper Ca:P ratio

  • Feed high quality, balanced diet with sufficient Ca and proper Ca:P ratio

  • Supportive care

  • See veterinarian if moderate to severe



  • Eating other opossums

  • May also self-mutilate

  • Pay particular attention to chewed ears, tail, toes

  • Poor husbandry

  • Overcrowding

  •  Stress

  • Inadequate diet

  • Improper diet

  • Placing injured opossum with healthy

  • Mixing different sizes

  • Sick opossum

  • Provide sufficient food

  • Do not overcrowd

  • Minimize stress

  • After eyes open, use caution when mixing litters

  • Watch for problems and signs of aggression, listen for “cacking” sounds, separate immediately

  • NEVER place injured animal in cage with others!