By Pam Bolton;

Executive Director Missouri Wildlife Center


The lyrics of an old song by the Byrds describes baby season at the Wildlife Rescue Center, “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven”.

As we leave squirrel season, we enter opossum’s season, or “possum” as everyone calls them, at the Wildlife Rescue Center.  Most opossum infants are born between the months of February and June.  Currently we have 118 baby Virginia opossums in our “possum” nursery.  However, that number changes daily as we admit more patients and release others who are ready to step out on their own.


Opossums shared the earth with the dinosaurs and have out-lived them all.  Yet, they are one of the most misunderstood wild animals in Missouri.  Many believe that the opossum is aggressive which is contrary to the truth.  Actually, they are one of the most docile animals we care for at the Wildlife Rescue Center.   Opossums use defense mechanisms to scare off predators, including humans.  When frightened, opossums salivate excessively and open their mouths to display their teeth.  Heck, they are proud of their teeth! They have 50, which exceeds all other land mammals in North America!  They are famous for “playing dead” to discourage other animals from eating them.  (Actually they faint or go into a brief state of shock.)


Virginia Opossums are the only marsupials in North America, meaning that the females have pouches to raise their young.  When the babies are born, they are the size of a honey bee.  Mom can take care of as many as 13 babies in her pouch.


Opossums offer many benefits to the environment.  They munch on all types of bugs including cockroaches.  They eat rats and mice, snails, snakes, pet food that is left outside and spoiled fruit that has dropped from trees.  Opossums serve as a sanitation service and keep our neighborhoods free of garden pests, insects and rodents that can harbor disease.

Learn more about opossums, other wild animals and the environment at the Wildlife Center’s Summer Day Camp, held during the month of July.  The Camp is for children and youth ages 6-14. Each day, campers come together on our 15 acre property to partake in games, crafts, eco-art, science experiments, and wildlife fun. Check out the WILDEST summer day camp in the St. Louis area!


To register, or for information visit www.mowildlife.org or call 636-394-1880.