Opossums are generally considered to be wild animals. Here’s an interesting question, is it possible to convert an opossum into a household pet? There have always been challenges with this concept, but some other animals have responded well to being a pet.
Can You Own a Pet Opossum?
At this moment in time, it’s illegal to own an opossum as a pet in several regions. In the regions where it is legal to own an opossum, there are still a few challenges. While they are small and easy to care for, they are naturally created to be out in the wilderness. It could take some time for an opossum to become trustworthy and dependent on a human source for food and resources.
After some time, it’s certainly possible for an opossum to convert into a pet. It’s reasonable to expect that you’d need to place them into a cage for much of their life. While they don’t need an overwhelming amount of space, larger cages will be beneficial to their physical and mental health. It’s also important to offer an opossum an appropriate balanced diet regularly to avoid other types of health problems.
We do not agree with or endorse the keeping of wild animals or exotic animals as pets. However, because people are going to do it anyway, we want to provide reliable information on the subject. We do support rehabilitation through the correct channels.
What to Feed Pet Opossums
While you might be able to visit a local pet store and find an acceptable type of pet food for your opossum, there may be some better options as well. Fruits and vegetables are common choices for smaller animals like an opossum. These treats should be mixed with regular dry pet food several times per day on a regular schedule.
Some pet companies even have formulated opossum food. That comes with a mix of cornmeal, blood meal, blueberries, cranberries, dried insects, larva, and other supplements that keep an opossum healthy. I also recommend feeding them small dead rodents that you can also purchase from a full prey model supplier.
It’s generally a good idea to feed an opossum at least three times per day. To make it easy for yourself to remember, ensure to feed your pet in the (morning, afternoon, and evening.) Also, make sure that there is always an available source of water so that your opossum doesn’t become dehydrated.
List of foods to feed a pet opossum:
- Fruits, blueberries, cranberries, papaya
- Cornmeal, bloodmeal
- Live rodents, or frozen rodents
- Formulated food
- Dried insects
- Dried larva
- Wheat middlings
- Fish meal
Taurine and other supplements such as calcium are important for opossums. They get the taurine in the wild from eating raw prey. Since you may not be feeding them a proper raw prey model diet, you may need other supplements.
To see what not to feed opossums visit our article What Do Opossums Eat here.
Where Is It Legal To Own Opossums as Pets?
It’s legal to own a pet opossum as long as you have the appropriate regional permits to do so. In the United States, every state has different laws or permit requirements for exotic animals, and wild animals ownership. In the UK, you actually have to apply for a license to own certain wild animals.
Other regions may or may not have similar laws, but Canada is one region where you can own some exotic pets. Mexico also has fairly relaxed laws relating to exotic pets, but there are still some circumstances where you may not be allowed to own an opossum as a pet. In Massachusetts for instance, any wild or exotic animal that is not on their exotic animal list or domestic list, can not be owned as pets, including Opossums. Source.
How Long Do Opossums Live In Captivity?
Opossums don’t generally have a lengthy life expectancy in the wilderness. As a pet, they may be able to live longer because they are not facing predators in the wilderness and trying to survive from them.
With a lifespan that normally only extends two or three years, opossums can live many additional years as a pet in captivity. If the opossum continuously receives exceptional care and appropriate types of food, opossums could live for more than five or six years, although this is rare.
Pet Opossum Care and Health
If you are going to have a pet opossum, then you will need to find a veterinarian in your area that has experience with not only exotic animals but with opossums specifically. Exotic animals need to have access to the correct care if you are going to keep them for a long period.
Opossums need a lot of exercise and a regular diet. As we have mentioned, They need a proper source of food and water. You will need to provide supplemented nutrition, such as calcium and other supplements.
Why Pet Opossums Are a Bad Idea
There are several challenges to having an opossum as a pet. By having your opossum inside most of the time, it would be very challenging for your opossum to receive an appropriate amount of exercise. They could easily become overweight and struggle with health issues as they get older.
Because of this, you will want to have some type of outdoor enclosure. This can be a little bit costly. Because they are great diggers, you will also have to fortify your fencing. You will need to put chicken wire underneath the fence to keep them from digging under if they are going to run free.
You should also ensure that there are no other pets in your house while owning an opossum. Other pets could generate fear into your opossum and that could force them into a state of shock, also known as ‘playing dead’. This scenario could cause a lot of stressful problems for opossum pet owners.
Much of the same information we have provided for opossums as pets, can also be applied to rehabilitation, as long as you have permission to rehabilitate opossums.
Are opossums considered to be an exotic pet?
Most countries consider wild animals to be exotic pets. Opossums would likely fall into this category because they are not common household pets. Many countries require special licenses or permits to own an exotic pet.
Is it possible for an opossum to live a happy and healthy life as a pet?
An opossum certainly can thrive as a pet. There are many challenges to adapting to this unique living environment. Certain food must be provided to the opossum and a sufficient level of exercise is needed for the opossum to remain healthy.