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when is a "humane trap" inhumane?

Opossum with broken teeth
After several weeks of rehabilitation, she was in great condition! Here she is plotting her departure from our facility.
Opossum mouth after surgery
Close-up of the jaw wound after healing.
Opossum mom with babies. Photo from WildCare archive
A mother opossum nurses her babies until they are old enough to ride on her back and begin to forage on their own.
Opossum release. Photo by Mary Pounder
Lucky to have recovered from her ordeal, this little opossum is released.

Virginia Opossum (#1517) was caught by accident when a business owner, trying to get rid of raccoons on his property, set a cage trap he had bought at the hardware store.Traps can't determine who they'll catch, and this one caught this opossum.

The problem? She was a nursing mother who needed to return to her babies. The owner didn't check the trap, and this young female spent almost 18 hours in it, panicked and doing everything she could, including trying to chew through the metal bars of the cage, to try to escape. 

When WildCare admitted her, the babies were nowhere to be found, and we couldn't save them. Our team was heartbroken at the senseless loss of life.

Using a trap may seem like a logical solution to a nuisance wildlife conflict, but it rarely solves the problem. There is no guarantee that the nuisance animal will be the one caught, and any trapped animal, like this young opossum, may cause herself harm trying to escape. Plus, unless what is attracting the animals is removed, other wildlife will always move in to take advantage. Learn more about permanent and humane ways to solve wildlife conflicts!

Trapping is a specialized skill that involves training and licensing, and frequent monitoring of the trap. This little opossum was stuck for nearly 18 hours without food or water, and nearly destroyed her jaw and teeth as she tried to escape. Because of the trap, she was unable to nurse her babies and got mastitis, a painful infection of the mammary glands. Worse, her babies were orphaned and most likely did not survive.

For this reason, WildCare strongly recommends against the use of traps and encourages preventative measures to avoid wildlife conflicts before they start. Click here for our extensive 24-point inspection guide to learn how to humanely wildlife-proof your home!

Once brought to WildCare and anesthetized in the Wildlife Hospital, opossum #1517 was given fluids, and her wound was cleaned and stabilized with holding stitches. She was put on a course of antibiotics and pain medications, and her mastitis required daily warm compresses and treatment.

The severity of the jaw wound even required veterinary dental surgery. On September 27, Dr. Melinda Lommer of Aggie Animal Dental Service performed the surgery, and by October 10 the wound was completely healed.

Dr. Lommer returned to remove her stitches, and this opossum, lucky to have recovered from her ordeal, was released on October 21.

  Opossum diet recipe

We Need Your Help to Save Lives!

How much does it cost PER DAY to feed our opossum patients? 

Approximately $3.50 per meal per opossum.

WildCare admits over 120 Virginia Opossums every year and, like all of our wildlife patients, each one needs the proper diet to heal and grow strong enough to be released.

An adult opossum averages a two-week stay in the Wildlife Hospital. An orphaned baby may be in care for two months.

Donate today to help us provide proper nutrition for our opossums and all our wildlife patients!

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Baby squirrel. Photo by Alison Hermance
This tiny baby is the year's first
baby squirrel!
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