Opossums As Pets: Do They Make Good Pets?

When most people think of Opossums as Pets or household pets, images of playful dogs, cats, or other animals might come to mind. Some might wonder why keep an opossum as a pet. But go a little deeper into the world of animal companionship, and you’ll discover a realm where the unusual becomes endearing. That is where you will enter the world of unusual animals like the opossum. 

These nocturnal marsupials, with their cute tails and unique habits, are creating a niche in the hearts of a growing number of enthusiasts. “Opossums as Unconventional Companions” invites you on a journey to understand these creatures better and explore the allure and intricacies of keeping opossums as pets. 

Whether driven by curiosity or considering adopting one by yourself, this guide will shed light on the wonderful world of opossum pet mystery.

Do Opossums Make Good Pets? lets find.

Opossums as Pets: Why an Unconventional Choice

People in America have liked different and unusual pets for a long time. However the idea of having opossum as a pet started to become popular in the late 1900s. By the time it was the early 2000s; more people in places like Florida and California were talking about how cool opossums were as pets. 

About ten years later, even folks in Texas and New York started getting interested. So, why do people like opossums as pets? Well, they’re calm, easy to take care of and look really unique. Plus, they have cool habits and history that make them fun to watch and learn about. People who have pet opossums like to have something different and love to see all the different types of animals nature has to offer.

Why Do People Choose Opossums as Pets?

Opossums are becoming a popular choice as pets for several reasons. 

  • Firstly, they’re unique, and owning one makes for an interesting talking point. They’re different from typical pets like cats or dogs. 
  • Secondly, opossums are calm and don’t need too much attention, making them easy to care for. They also eat a variety of foods, so feeding them isn’t too hard. 
  • People also like how opossums are curious and like to explore, which can be fun to watch. Lastly, having an opossum is a chance to learn more about an animal that many don’t know much about. 

For these reasons, more and more people are giving opossums a chance as household companions.

The Opossum’s Unique Features as a Pet

Opossum's Unique Features As A Pet

Opossums are not your typical household pets, and they come with a set of unique features that make them stand out. Here’s an introduction to their special traits that will help you understand whether are opossums good pets or not.

  • Prehensile Tail: Opossums have a tail that can grasp or hold onto things. This is especially useful for climbing or hanging from branches in the wild.
  • Marsupial: Like kangaroos, opossums carry their babies in a pouch when they’re born. It’s a neat feature not found in most pets.
  • Nocturnal Habits: Opossums are most active at night. This can be fun for night owls who want a pet awake during their most active hours.
  • Immune Superstars: They have strong immune systems and are resistant to many diseases. This means they’re less likely to get sick than other pets.
  • Low Maintenance: Opossums are easy-going and don’t need constant attention or playtime like some other pets.
  • Unique Teeth: Opossums have 50 teeth, more than any other North American mammal. It’s a cool fact to share with friends.
  • Short Lifespan: Opossums live for only about 2-4 years. This can be a good option for those not ready for a long-term pet commitment.

These features make opossums a unique choice for those looking for something a little different in a pet. Let us further elaborate on the question: are opossums good pets?

Bringing Home a Pet Opossum, What Is the Difference?

A question might come to your mind while reading all that, do opossums make good pets? Adopting an opossum is not like bringing home a cat or dog. This unique marsupial has specific needs and behaviors that require understanding and patience. From finding the right source to acquire one to understanding their early care needs, ensuring a smooth transition for your new pet is essential. The following segments delve into key considerations and steps to take when making the decision to introduce an opossum into your home.

As you have now come to a conclusion, can opossums be pets, here are some key considerations regarding that scenario:

Key Considerations for Keeping Opossums as Pets:

Considerations for Keeping Opossums as Pets

1. Legal Restrictions:

Before getting an opossum, check local and state laws. Some areas might have restrictions or require permits to keep them as pets.

2. Diet:

Opossums are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. The opossum diet in captivity might vary but make sure you provide a varied diet that includes fruits, veggies, and protein sources to your opossum.

3. Night Owls:

    Remember, opossums are nocturnal. They’ll be most active at night, so be prepared for nighttime play and feeding with your domesticated opossum.

    4. Safe Housing:

    Opossums need a secure space. A large cage or enclosure that’s safe from other pets or potential dangers is essential. They also need hiding spots and climbing structures.

    5. Healthcare:

    Just like any other pet, opossums will need regular check-ups. Find a vet familiar with opossums or exotic animals. Especially, baby opossum care is crucial.

    6. Social Needs:

    While they can be solitary, opossums also enjoy interaction. Regular handling and playtime can help them stay happy.

    7. Life Span:

    Opossums have a shorter lifespan, usually 2-4 years. It’s important to understand this commitment isn’t as long as with pets like dogs or cats.

    8. Temperature Sensitivity:

    Opossums are sensitive to extreme temperatures. Make sure they’re kept in a comfortable environment, not too hot or too cold.

    9. Handling with Care:

    While they can become accustomed to human interaction, always handle your opossum gently and with respect. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises.

    10. Research and Preparation:

    Before bringing an opossum home, do thorough research. Join forums, read books, and consult experts to ensure you’re well-prepared.

    By considering these points and preparing adequately, one can provide a loving and suitable home for an opossum.

    How Many Opossums in a Litter:

    Opossum litter with mother

    Opossums can give birth to many babies at once, but not all of them survive or make it to the mother’s pouch. Here’s a simple breakdown:

    Litter Size: A mother opossum can give birth to up to 20 babies in a single litter. However, this number can vary.

    Pouch Space: Even though she can give birth to many babies, a mother opossum only has 13 teats in her pouch. This means that only 13 babies can attach and feed at a time.

    Survival Rate: Because of the limited space and resources in the pouch, not all babies survive. Usually, only a few from each litter make it to a more mature stage.

    Frequency: A female opossum can have up to two litters per year, depending on the conditions and environment.

    So, while opossums can have a large number of babies at once, the actual number that grows to maturity is usually much smaller due to the challenges they face early on.

    Creating the right environment for a pet opossum is crucial to ensure its well-being, health, and happiness. Here’s a simple guide to setting up an ideal habitat for your pet opossum:

    How to Create the Ideal Habitat for a Pet Opossum:

    Begin with a large, secure enclosure. Wire cages designed for ferrets or chinchillas can be suitable. The cage should be at least 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 3 feet tall. Ensure the gaps in the cage are small enough so the opossum cannot escape. Also, the cage should be placed in a quiet, low-traffic area of your home.

    Opossums love to climb. Include branches, shelves, or hammocks in their enclosure to allow them to climb and hang, mimicking their natural behavior. These are shy creatures and need places to hide. Provide boxes, tunnels, or fabric pouches where they can retreat and feel secure. Use a safe substrate on the cage floor, like aspen shavings or recycled paper bedding. Avoid cedar or pine, as they can be harmful.

    Opossums are sensitive to cold. Ensure the room temperature is around 70°F (21°C). If it gets colder, consider using a ceramic heat emitter to maintain warmth. Toys, such as balls, ropes, or chew toys, can provide mental stimulation. Rotate the toys regularly to keep things fresh and engaging.

    Provide a shallow dish of fresh water at all times. For food, use a sturdy ceramic dish that won’t tip over easily. Regularly clean the cage, remove uneaten food daily, and change the substrate weekly or when soiled. This will help prevent odor and ensure a healthy environment.

    If possible, create a secure play area outside the cage where your opossum can explore and exercise under supervision. Remember, opossums are nocturnal. Consider using a dim night light so you can observe their activities without disturbing their natural rhythms.

    By setting up a space that mimics opossums’ natural habitat and meets their needs, you’ll create a comfortable home where your pet opossum can thrive.

    Legal Considerations and Regulations for Keeping Opossums as Pets:

    Rules & Regulations for Keeping Opossums as Pets

    Keeping opossums as pets is subject to varying regulations across the United States. Here’s a simplified overview of some legal considerations in prominent states where the practice is notable, giving you an idea on can you have a pet opossum or not in your state.

    1. California: It’s illegal to keep opossums as pets in California without a special permit. These permits are generally issued for educational or rehabilitation purposes and not for private pet ownership.
    2. Florida: In Florida, residents can keep opossums as pets provided they obtain a Class III wildlife permit. This permit is relatively easy to get, but the pet owner must follow specific care guidelines.
    3. New York: While New York allows the possession of opossums, a permit is required. The state also mandates regular veterinary care for the pet.
    4. Texas: Texas has strict regulations concerning the possession of wildlife. While you can’t keep an opossum as a regular pet, you can get a wildlife rehabilitation permit, which allows you to care for injured or orphaned wild animals until they can be safely released.
    5. Georgia: In Georgia, opossums are considered wildlife and cannot be kept as pets. However, rehabilitation permits are available for those looking to help injured or orphaned opossums.
    6. Pennsylvania: Here, the Game Commission considers opossums as wild animals, so they cannot be kept as pets. However, wildlife rehabilitation permits are available for specific cases.
    7. Illinois: The state requires a special permit to own an opossum. These permits are generally issued for rehabilitation or educational purposes.
    8. Michigan: Possessing an opossum without a permit is illegal in Michigan. Permits are primarily issued to educational institutions or wildlife rehabilitators.
    9. Tennessee: It’s illegal to own wildlife, including opossums, as pets in Tennessee. However, you can obtain a wildlife rehabilitator license if you intend to care for sick or injured animals.


    With proper upbringing, they’re docile. However, any pet can pose risks if mishandled or threatened.

    Consult a specialized vet immediately.

    Supervision is the key. Their gentle nature can be appealing, but interactions should always be monitored.

    A litter can have up to 20 joeys, but survival rates vary.

    They can, to some extent, be trained, but expect occasional accidents.

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