What to Do When You See an Opossum in Trouble on the Road

Help! There’s an injured or possibly dead opossum in the road. What should I do?

If you can safely do so, it’s generally a good idea to stop when you find an animal in the road, whether the animal is dead or alive. Helping a live animal off the road and getting the animal into care – even if the only care option is euthanasia – is the right thing to do. Moving a dead animal out of the road will decrease the chances that animals scavenging the body will themselves become victims of a vehicle strike. (It’s important to always have sturdy gloves in your car for just this need.)

Opossums present a special case, as they are marsupials. In fact, they’re the only marsupial in North America! As such, an injured or dead opossum may be a mother with babies in her pouch.

If the opossum is in the road, move him/her to the shoulder.

If the animal is alive, get him/her into a box or other carrier and use Animal Help Now’s wildlife emergency service app to find the nearest emergency assistance.

If you are uncertain whether or not the animal is alive, gently touch the animal’s back feet and eyes and face, check for any movement as you do so. If the animal is alive, get her into a box or other carrier and use Animal Help Now’s wildlife emergency service to find the nearest emergency assistance.

If the animal is dead and has a pouch, check for babies in the pouch. You can do so by gently lifting up the skin on the pouch and peeking inside. If there are babies in the pouch, you will need to take the mom’s body as is to a rehabilitator.

Note: If for some reason taking the mom’s body is not possible, you can transfer the babies to a warm container or carrier with a towel or blanket, but this is an extremely delicate procedure.

We suggest keeping an animal rescue kit (https://ahnow.org/kits) in your vehicle.

Animal Help Now makes finding a wildlife rehabilitator easier than ever. AHNow’s wildlife emergency service is available on the web at www.AHNow.org and as a free smartphone app (iPhone and Android).

7 Comments

  1. Hi,

    On Friday I rescued an injured opossum. Picked him up wearing latex gloves and put him on the sidewalk. Later ended up putting him in the box and dropping him off at the wild animal care.

    Since then i had scratchy throat, 104 fever for the past 4 days. And the final diagnosis I received (Canker sore) are very new to me.

    My BF keeps saying it’s since the rescue i am sick. And I keep denying.

    On the day 6, sitting alone here and wandering what if I did get it from him during my first transfer of him.

    Is it even possible?

    Not looking for someone to blame however find why i got this sick.

    • Jessie, we are grateful to you for helping the opossum and sorry you have been so sick. We are sorry, too, to say we are not qualified to speculate on such matters, although we would think it’s extremely rare to get sick under these conditions. Get well soon!

      • No Jessie – your boyfriend is mistaken. You took all the correct precautions, you didn’t even touch the animals. The opossum did not cause this – thank you for your help and care for this injured animal. Hopefully both of you have recovered by now and are in good health.

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