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Copyright © 2005 - Laura Ledet - All Rights Reserved


This is a typical example of how you might expect a healthy baby opossum to grow:

The side figures indicates weight in grams.


Before we go on to diet, I want to pass along some information about distilled water.
Distilled water has been the only water recommended for use in possums (of any age).
The following information brings to light some worrisome facts about the long
term use of distilled water. I use bottled spring water now. You could
also use water that has gone through reverse-osmosis.

Distilled water is known as "empty water". All good minerals, all bacteria
and pathogens of all kinds do not exist in the distilled water that is a
result of steamed distilled water. When your animal consumes distilled
water, the water molecules will attach themselves to minerals and electrolytes in the body.
****When your pet urinates all of these good items go OUT of the body.

When your animal is in need of getting toxins out of its body, distilled water is a
good drink because it aids de-toxing. The empty molecules attach themselves to
toxins and help clean the filtering systems in the body.
**** It should NOT however, be used long term.


One thing to ALWAYS remember is to rehydrate any babies you take in before
placing them on formula! There are a number of ways to do this:

Make solutions out of the following:

Best: 1 part bottled spring water to 1 part Ringers.

Apple juice: 1 part juice to 5 parts bottled spring water.

Home Recipe: 1 cup bottled spring water, 1/4 tsp salt, tsp sugar.

There are several commercial hydrating solutions sold in grocery stores that
do not contain aspertame, so make sure you read the labels before purchasing.

For More Information On The Dangers Of Aspertame:

Aspertame Articles

Aspertame Toxicity Center

Aspertame Information

Health Dangers of Aspertame

Sweet Poison

Depending on the condition of the babies, give hydrating fluids for 12-24 hours, and
then commence giving formula. I begin giving 1/4 strength formula for the first 2-3
feedings, then 1/2 strength, and then full strength to give their systems time to adjust.

Formula's should be prepared as follows:
1 part formula to 2 parts spring water. For infants under 30
grams mix it 1 part powdered formula to 5 parts bottled spring water. If the infants
are extremely small, and came in dehydrated, mix 1 part powdered formula
to 10 parts bottled spring water.

Ok, before I get on the different diets rehabbers use, I must say this: NEVER, EVER
use cow's milk or goats milk!!! They cannot tolerate it!!

WARNING!! Apparently there might be some connection to liver failure in young orphaned babies
who have been nursing on a dead mother. Another rehabber I believe lost an
entire litter to liver failure, who had been nursing off a dead mama. I am waiting
to hear the reports regarding this matter. I am wondering if Milk
Thistle might work under these circumstances, but of course this herb is
not indicated UNLESS there is a proven problem with the liver. To use this
herb indicriminantly could prove dangerous. Has anyone else heard anything
about liver failure caused by bad milk? If so, please contact me:

Diet is, and may always be, a controversial subject among rehabbers. I am just here to
list examples of what has been used by different people, some with reportedly,
long-term equal success.
One thing you should try and do is use a cat food
that is very similar to the following analysis:

Protein 31.5%
Fat 11%
Calcium 1.1%
Phosphorous 0.9%
Vitamin A 10,000 IU/kg
****It is recommended until further studies are in, to avoid
foods that contain soy or corn.


The Modified Jurgelski Diet: JUST SAY NO!
This is a dangerous diet some organizations and indiviuals suggest.


Here are approximate amounts of formula to be
given babies based on their weight in grams:

10 grams: .50 cc's every 2-3 hours
15 grams: .75 cc's every 2-3 hours
20 grams: 1.00 cc every 2-3 hours
25 grams: 1.25 cc's every 2-3 hours
30 grams: 1.50 cc's every 2-3 hours
35 grams: 1.75 cc's every 2-3 hours
40 grams: 2.00 cc's every 4 hours
45 grams: 2.25 cc's every 4 hours
50 grams: 2.25 cc's every 4 hours
55 grams: 2.75 cc's every 4 hours
60 grams: 3.00 cc's every 6 hours
65 grams: 3.25 cc's every 6 hours
70 grams: 3.50 cc's every 6 hours
75 grams: 3.75 cc's every 6 hours
80 grams: 4.00 cc's every 6 hours
85 grams: 4.25 cc's every 6 hours
90 grams: 4.50 cc's every 6 hours
95 grams: 4.75 cc's every 6 hours
100 grams: 5.00 cc's every 6 hours

At around 55-60 grams your babies should be eating on their own. Be ready, for they
will make a huge mess! They will spill their formula, wear their formula and after
they are done, will happily lick it off themselves and each
other while grooming.

A very handy little item to have on hand are disposable pipettes (I recommend the
3ml (3cc) size). They work so well feeding tiny babies, are cheap to buy, and you just
use and toss. I prefer them over syringes.

Photo By: Shonda Statini

Craft stores often carry pipettes, but they are so much cheaper online.
Here are a couple resources for you:
Disposable 3ml pipettes
(Look under fish supplies)

Disposable 3ml pipettes
Soap Crafters

****The following 3 formulas when prepared as directed will have the following analyses (per cup):

Esbilac: 12 grams
MilkMatrix 33/40: 12 grams
MultiMilk or Milk Matrix 30/55: 11 grams

Esbilac: 18 grams
MilkMatrix: 33/40: 18 grams
MultiMilk or Milk Matrix: 30/55: 22grams

Esbilac: 19 grams
MilkMatrix 33/40: 19 grams
MultiMilk or Milk Matrix: 30/55: 15 grams

Esbilac: 587 mg
MilkMatrix 33/40: 569 mg
MultiMilk or Milk Matrix 30/55: 547 mg

Esbilac: 349 mg
MilkMatrix 33/40: 294 mg
MultiMilk or Milk Matrix 30/55: 280 mg

Esbilac: 1.7/1.0
MilkMatrix 33/40: 1.9/1.0
MultiMilk or Milk Matrix 30/55: 2.0/1.0

Esbilac: 2,050
MilkMatrix 33/40: 2,030
MultiMilk or Milk Matrix: 30/55: 2,202 VITAMIN D-IU:
Esbilac: 304
MilkMatrix 33/40: 295
MultiMilk or Milk Matrix 30/55: 374

ESBILAC: Puppy Replacement Milk (powdered).
This formula must be embelished with 200 mg calcium, 1/2 of a
large cooked egg yolk, 1/2 of a 7.5 gram tab of nutritional brewers yeast, 2
teaspoons of unsweetened apple juice and a 2-3 inch line of Nutrical per cup of
prepared formula. Use only bottled spring water to make this formula, or any other,
as well as for drinking water.

Milk Matrix 30/55 and 33/40 (powdered):
****Be sure to add 200 mg of calcium to each cup of prepared formula and a 2-3 inch line of Nutrical.

****Be sure to add 200 mg of calcium to each cup of prepared formula and a 2-3 inch line of Nutrical.

FOX VALLEY: (powdered)
I have not used this formula as of yet. This company makes formula for many
different species of wildlife. I have heard mostly good reports about
their formula from other rehabbers. Sold online only.

BIOLAC (powdered)
As far as I know, this product is sold online only.I have never tried this
formula, but a few rehabbers have given it the thumbs up. The company claims this
formula is based on the needs of all marsupials. To read about
this product, go to the following websites:




KMR: Kitten Replacement Milk (powdered).
KMR is sold in pet stores as well as online.
****Be sure to add 200mg of calcium and a 2-3 inch line of Nutrical to each
cup of prepared formula.

**** Usually between 40-50 grams babies are able to lap formula from a shallow dish. They will
make a mess, but they need to learn this very important skill!!

Once your babies reach a certain age, (about 70 grams) you will need to begin
incorporating less formula and serving them semi-solid foods.
You can make a nice mash for possums up to about
100 grams out of softened or ground up adult cat chow kibble, vegetables and yogurt. If you
really want to make things easy, use baby food vegetables.....just make sure
there is no meat or onions in it! Use vegetables low in Vitamin A such as peas,
squash and green beans. Take 1 cup cat chow, 1 cup pureed vegetables, and
1/4 cup plain yogurt and blend until very smooth. This too can be frozen into
cube trays and thawed as needed. I have always just plopped a few spoonfuls in
a shallow dish (depending on how many babies there are) and let them eat until
they are full. They will stop when they have had enough.

To feed babies who are between roughly 70-100 grams , feed a mix of 1 cup formula (already
mixed with water), 2 tablespoons of the cat chow mix recipe above, 2 tablespoons baby food fruit
and serve in a shallow bowl. They will make a complete mess, but that is
just part of the process! :)

At 100-200 grams feed a mix of 1 cup formula, 3/4 cup cat chow mix, 1/3 cup
fruit, and 1 tsp of protein. Blend well and serve.

At 200 grams-1 pound, feed a mix of 1/4 cup formula, 1 3/4 cup cat chow mix,
1/2 cup fruit and 2 1/2 tsp of protein.

After the possums reach 1 pound, you should no longer feed extra formula. Just mix up 3 1/2
cups of the cat chow mix, 2/3 cup fruit, and 1/3 cup protein.


Protein is an important factor in a opossums diet, however, too much can cause serious
issues such as MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease), so you must be very cautious about
how much you serve to an opossum of any age.
To make a good protein mix try this recipe:
2 large cooked eggs (you can hard boil these and puree with the rest of this mix, shell and all)
1 cup plain yogurt (with live cultures)
1/4 cup sardines (salt-free and packed in water) or salmon.
1/4 cup chicken liver or hearts (cooked)

Blend to a smooth consistency, freeze in ice cube trays and pop out what you need
at each feeding. I usually freeze my protein mix seperately from the cat chow mix
because if you have babies at different stages of diet, you will not be able
to feed them the same mix. If you are really industrious, you can make larger
batches of each stage, mark them clearly, and freeze seperately. It will save you time in the long run!


At least a couple weeks before I release our babies, I wean them off the pureed food
and onto dry kibble, diced raw vegetables, chunks of protein and a bite or two of
fruit. They need to get used to useing those teeth. Their food is not going to be
pureed for them out in the wild! I also get them used to catching and eating live
insects and worms.


Something to go by to tell how old babies are:
10grams-pink -no hair embryo look.
25grams-begins to get hair-eyes not open - feed every 2-3 hrs. 1.25 cc formula
35grams- fully furred should be lapping by now with eyes fully open feed every 2-3
hrs. 1.75cc formula.
After this you can feed every 4-5 hours.

Below are some pictures that dipict "appx" ages:

Very young neonates, just a few days old.
Photo By: Laura Ledet

Appx 1 month old: Notice the skin pigmentation beginning to change.
Photo By: Racquel Ringling

Close up of baby.
Photo By: Lorna Buffum

Appx 7 weeks old.

Appx 8-9 weeks old.
Photo By: Laura Ledet

Appx 12 weeks old.
Photo By: Laura Ledet

Appx 16 weeks old.
Photo By: Laura Ledet

Appx 5 months.
Photo By: Laura Ledet

Appx 6-7 months old.
Photo By: Laura Ledet


Esbilac Powder: ( Puppy Replacement Formula)

Ingredients: Vegetable Oil, Casein, Whey Protein Concentrate, Butter Fat, Dried
Skimmed Milk, Egg Yolk, Monocalcium Phosphate, Lactose, Calcium Carbonate, L-arginine ,
Lechithin, DL-methionine, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride,
Potassium Phosphate Monobasic, Magnesium Carbonate, Salt, Potassium
Phosphate Dibasic, Magnesium Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate,
Dipotassium Phosphate, Silico Aluminate, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin B12
Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Ethylenediamine
Dihydroiodide, Folic Acid, Riboflavin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine
Hydrochloride, Biotin, and Mono and Diglycerides.

Nutritional Information:
Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude Protein 33.0% Min
Crude Fiber 0.0% Max
Crude Fat 40.0% Min
Ash 7.75% Max
Moisture 5.0% Max

KMR (Kitten Replacement Formula):

Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude Protein, min 40.0%
Crude Fat, min 27.0%
Crude Fiber 0.0%
Moisture, max 5.0%
Ash, max 7.0%

Whey protein concentrate, casein, dried skimmed milk, vegetable oil, butter fat,
corn syrup solids, egg yolk, monocalcium phosphate, lactose, L-arginine,
lecithin, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, choline chloride,
potassium phosphate monobasic, diacalcium phosphate, magnesium carbonate, taurine,
potassium phosphate dibasic, magnesium sulfate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin
E supplement , zinc sulfate, dipotassium phosphate, silico aluminate,
niacin supplement, ascorbic acid, copper sulfate, vitamin A supplement,
vitamin B12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, vitamin D3
supplement, ethylenediamine dihydroiodide, folic acid, riboflavin,
thiamine hydrochloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, and mono and

FOX VALLEY Opossum Specific Formula 25/30:
A milk replacer formulated for Virginia Opossums weighing 45 grams to weaning.

Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude Protein, Min. ... 25.0%
Crude Fat, Min. ... 30.0%
Crude Fiber, Max. ... 0.0%
Ash, Max. ... 9.0%
Moisture, Max. ... 5.0%

25% Protein
30% Fat
32% Carbohydrates
498 kcal/100 grams powder
1 cup weighs approx 127 grams

Ingredients Vegetable Oil, Dried Milk Protein, Dried Hydrolyzed Casein, Dried
Skimmed Milk, Dried Corn Syrup Solids, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium
Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, D,L,Methionine, L-Arginine
Sodium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A
Supplement, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate,
Riboflavin Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin B-12
Supplement, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid,
Glycine, L-Lysine, L-Threonine, Taurine,L-Tyrosine, Calcium Iodate, Biotin.


The composition of milk samples collected from captive opossums (Didelphis virginiana)
was determined at various intervals during lactation. The milk solids
increased from 9% at week one to a maximum of 34% at 11 weeks post-partum.
There were changes in the relative proportions of protein, lipid
and carbohydrate at different stages of lactation. Lipid represented the
greatest fraction of the solids except for a period at mid-lactation when there
was a peak in protein concentration. The concentrations of sodium, potassium and
magnesium were relatively constant, 41 +/- 4, 35 +/- 11 and 9.2 +/- 1.6 mmol
respectively, although calcium increased from 13 +/- 5 mmol at week one to a
peak of 112 +/- 35 mmol at 9 weeks.

Nutri-Cal vs VitaCal:
These products are used in formulas and also as a quick way to boost caloric
intake. Here is a comparison between two of the most well known brands.

To Purchase Vitacal: Drs Foster and Smith

Malt Syrup, Corn Oil, Mono- and Diglycerides, Water, Lecithin, Molasses,
Edible Collagen, DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Cod Liver Oil, Sorbic Acid and
Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Ferrous Gluconate, Magnesium Sulfate,
Manganese Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Niacinamide,
Pyridoxine Hydrocloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Potassium Iodide, Riboflavin,
Folic Acid, Mannitol, Cholecalciferol, Cyanocobalamin.

Nutritional Information (per ounce):
Metabolizable Energy 122 KCAL
Magnesium 0.007%
Iodine 0.003%
Vitamin D3 260 IU
Thiamine 10 mg
Vitamin B6 5 mg
Niacinamide 10 mg
Folic Acid 1 mg
Manganese 0.018%
Iron 0.009%
Vitamin A 5,200 IU
Vitamin E 30 IU
Riboflavin 1 mg
Pantothenic Acid 10 mg
Vitamin B12 10 mcg

Malt Syrup, Corn Oil, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Mono and Diglycerides,
Water, Lecithin, Molasses, Edible Collagen, DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (source of
Vitamin E), Cod Liver Oil, Sorbic Acid and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Ferrous
Gluconate, Magnesium Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate,
Thiamine Hydrochloride, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A
Palmitate, Potassium Iodide, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Mannitol, Cholecalciferol
(Source of Vitamin D3), Cyanocobalamin.

Nutritional Information (per ounce):
Metabolizable Energy 122 KCAL
Magnesium 0.018%
Magnesium 0.007%
IRON 0.009%U
Vitamin A 5,200 IU
Vitamin D3 260 IU
Vitamin E 30 IU
Thiamine 10 mg
Riboflavin 1 mg
Vitamin B6 5 mg
Pantothenic Acid 10 mg
Niacinamide 10 mg
Vitamin B12 10 mcg
Folic Acid 1 mg
Glucosamine Hydrochloride 2,835 mg

This product is sold in most pet stores and vet offices.

Corn Syrup, Soybean Oil, Malt Syrup, Cod Liver Oil, Cane Molasses, Methylcellulose,
Water, Peptones, dl-Alpha tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E), Sodium Benzoate
(Preservative), Manganese Sulphate, Iron Peptonate, Thiamine HCl, Nicotinamide,
Calcium Pantothenate (source of Calcium and Pantothenic Acid), Magnesium Sulphate,
Pyridoxine HCl, Vitamin A Palmitate, Potassium Iodide (Source of Iodine and
Potassium), Riboflavin 5' Phosphate Sodium (Source of Vit. B2 and Phosphorus), Vitamin
A Palmitate & D3 Concentrate, Folic Acid and Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12).

Guaranteed analysis per teaspoon (6 grams):
Crude Protein (Min) 1.5%
Crude Fat (Min) 4.5%
Crude Fibre (Max) 3.7%
Moisture (Max) 14%
Calories (Calculated) 30
Calcium (Min) (0.0026%) 0.16 mg
Calcium (Max) (0.0033%) 0.20 mg
Phosphorus (0.0006%) 0.03 mg
Iron (0.0088%) 0.53 mg
Iodine (0.0088%) 0.53 mg
Magnesium (0.0067%) 0.42 mg
Manganese (0.0176%) 1 mg
Potassium (0.0027%) 0.16 mg
Vitamin A 1045 IU
Vitamin D3 0 IU
Vitamin E 6 IU
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine HCl) 2 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.2 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine HCl) 1 mg
Vitamin B12 2 mcg
Folic Acid 0.2 mg
Nicotinamide 2 mg
Pantothenic Acid 2 mg

Calorie Content: 4420 kcal/kg (26.5kcal/6g).