Yesterday I received a call that animal control had picked up a hit-by-car female opossum. She was in critical condition and was needing to be humanely euthanized. Before doing so though, the animal control officer realized that she had babies in her pouch. So I met up with him to remove the babies from her pouch. By the time I got there he had already sedated her to make her relax, she was in immense pain but could not be euthanized before the babies were removed. I pulled seven little ones from her in total, each averaging at about only 5 grams! These are officially the smallest babies that I have ever received. I double checked her pouch, making sure I didn't miss any, and gave him the okay. There was no possible way that any veterinarian could save her so having her humanely euthanized was the kindest thing to do for her. Rest in peace sweet soul, your babies are safe now.
After getting home they were all placed in a moist and warm incubator as I got some formula ready for them. Because they are so small, they do not receive too much liquid each feeding, but do need to be fed often. At current weight they get 0.25cc of formula every 2 hours. That includes throughout the night. I got them fed but their best chance of survival would be to go with a surrogate mother. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as just putting them in her pouch and letting them be. Luckily, I have a mother in my care. I brought her inside and had her relax on her back in my lap so that I could get the babies in to her pouch. I kept her inside a carrier in the house with lots of comfortable bedding so she could relax. Every few hours I would check on her and every few hours one or two of the babies were outside of her pouch and on the blankets. When a mother opossum sleeps, her pouch relaxes. Babies can easily fall out if they are not attached to the nipple so this is what was happening.
By this morning, three were now outside of her pouch. I took them and placed the three back in the incubator and then checked on the mother. Lo-and-behold, two babies had attached themselves to a teat! I was so happy. I removed the other babies, knowing that if they hadn't attached to a teat by now there was not a very high chance that they would. When opossums are born they crawl inside their mother's pouch and search for a teat. Once they find one they swallow it and do not detach for two months. So when a baby is removed from a teat, it is difficult for them to reattach, although not impossible. The two that were able to reattach though are now in the perfect environment to live and grow as they should. The rest will continue to be tube fed. Babies this size have a small chance of survival outside of their mother's pouch, but it is possible. I will be doing all that I can in hopes that they little ones will make it.