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Home » Blog » Pet Opossum: Everything You Need to Know

Pet Opossum: Everything You Need to Know

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Pet opossums have become increasingly popular as exotic pets in recent years. Despite their reputation as pests in the wild, these marsupials are gaining recognition as affectionate and low-maintenance companions. This article will explore the world of pet opossums, including their behavior, diet, and care requirements.

Opossums are unique animals that are native to North and South America. They are known for their characteristic appearance, with their hairless tails and sharp teeth. Despite not being many people’s first choice when considering a pet, they have many qualities that make owning an opossum attractive to some. For one, they are generally low-maintenance pets that require minimal grooming. Additionally, opossums are intelligent animals that can be trained to use a litter box and do tricks.

However, owning a pet opossum is not without its challenges. Opossums have specific dietary requirements, and their diet must be carefully monitored to ensure they receive all necessary nutrients. Additionally, opossums are nocturnal animals that require a lot of space to move around and play. The following sections will explore these topics further and provide a comprehensive guide to owning a pet opossum.

Legal Considerations

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State Regulations

The legality of owning a pet opossum varies depending on the state. In some states, such as Texas, it is legal to have a pet opossum with a permit, while in others, it is completely illegal. It is important to research the laws in your state before considering getting a pet opossum.

States where it is legal to have a pet opossum with a permit include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

States where it is illegal to have a pet opossum include California, Georgia, Hawaii, New York, and Virginia.

Federal and Local Laws

In addition to state regulations, it is important to consider federal and local laws. It is illegal to import opossums into the United States without a permit, and it is also illegal to transport them across state lines without a permit.

Furthermore, some cities and counties may have their regulations regarding pet opossums. It is important to research and comply with all applicable laws and regulations to avoid legal issues.

It is important to note that owning a pet opossum may not be suitable for everyone, as they require specialized care and attention. Before considering having one of these animals as a pet, it is crucial to research and understand their needs.

Choosing an Opossum

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If you're considering getting an opossum as a pet, there are a few things you should keep in mind. This section will cover the species and breeds of opossums that make good pets and their health and temperament.

Species and Breeds

The most common species of opossum kept as pets is the short-tailed opossum. These small marsupials are native to South America and they have social and inquisitive personalities. Other species of opossums, such as the Virginia opossum, are not suitable to be kept as pets due to their size and potential aggression.

When choosing a short-tailed opossum as a pet, it's important to find a reputable and responsible breeder. Avoid purchasing opossums from pet stores or online sellers, as they may not be properly cared for and could have health issues.

Health and Temperament

Opossums can make great pets, but they do require special care. They are nocturnal animals and need plenty of space to climb and explore. Opossums also require a specialized diet that includes insects and other small prey.

When selecting an opossum, look for one that is active, alert, and has a healthy coat. Avoid opossums that appear lethargic or have discharge from their eyes or nose. It's also important to handle your opossum regularly to ensure they are comfortable with human interaction.

Overall, opossums can make great pets for the right person. They are intelligent, curious, and can be quite affectionate. Before bringing one home, though, make sure you've done your homework because they do need particular care and attention.

Opossum Care Fundamentals


When it comes to feeding a pet opossum, it is important to provide them with a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. A good diet for a pet opossum should consist of a variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources such as cooked chicken, eggs, and insects. It is crucial to refrain from providing processed foods, sweet sweets, and high-fat items to opossums.

It is recommended to feed a pet opossum twice a day, but never in excess as opossums have a slow metabolism and overfeeding is a serious health risk for these creatures. Make sure that fresh water is available at all times.


Pet opossums require enough room to move around and explore, so they must be provided with a spacious and secure habitat. A pet opossum’s suitable enclosure should be at least 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 3 feet high. The enclosure should also be securely shut to prevent the opossum from escaping.

Inside the enclosure, provide your pet opossum with hiding places, such as a nest box or a small cave, and plenty of bedding material such as shredded newspaper or hay. To keep your pet in a healthy environment, it's critical to clean the enclosure on a regular basis.


Pet opossums are intelligent and curious animals that require mental stimulation and enrichment to thrive. Provide your pet opossum with toys, such as puzzle feeders and chew toys, to keep them entertained and engaged. You can also provide them with branches and other natural materials to climb on and explore.

Spending time interacting with your pet opossum, such as playing games or training them to do simple tricks, can also provide them with enrichment and strengthen your bond with them.

Overall, providing proper opossum care is essential for the health and well-being of your pet. By following these basic care fundamentals, you can ensure that your pet opossum lives a happy and healthy life.

Health and Wellness

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Veterinary Care

As with any pet, regular veterinary care is essential for the health and well-being of pet opossums. It is advised that opossums have an annual examination to make sure they are in good health and to identify any possible problems early on.

During these check-ups, veterinarians may perform a physical examination, take blood and urine samples, and administer vaccines. A crucial thing for your pet opossum’s health is to find a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about them and their specific health needs.

Common Health Issues

Opossums can suffer from a variety of health issues, some of which are more common than others. One common health issue in opossums is dental problems. Opossums have unique teeth that require regular maintenance, and dental issues can lead to pain and difficulty eating.

Another common health issue in opossums is parasitic infections. Opossums can carry a variety of parasites, including fleas and ticks, which can lead to skin irritation and other health problems. It is important to regularly check your opossum for parasites and to take preventative measures to avoid infestations.

In addition to these common health issues, opossums can also suffer from respiratory infections, digestive issues, and other health problems. It's key to closely control your opossum's health and seek veterinary care if you notice any signs of illness, as is with any pet.

Overall, with proper veterinary care and attention to their specific health needs, pet opossums can live happy and healthy lives.

Behavior and Socialization

Understanding Opossum Behavior

Pet opossums are nocturnal animals, which means they are active during the night and sleep during the day. They prefer to live alone, as they are solitary creatures. However, they are not aggressive unless threatened and may be able to coexist peacefully with other pets in the household, such as cats and dogs, although this is not recommended. Opossums are also known for their ability to play dead when threatened, which is a natural defense mechanism.

Opossums are generally clean animals and will groom themselves like cats. They have a reputation for being bright and inquisitive creatures. They love to investigate their surroundings and can be seen climbing and jumping to reach high places. It is important to provide them with plenty of toys and activities to keep them stimulated and prevent boredom.

Social Needs and Interaction

Although opossums are solitary creatures, they still require social interaction and attention from their owners. They are affectionate animals and enjoy being held and cuddled. Spending time with your pet opossum every day is key to building a bond and establishing trust.

Opossums are not recommended for households with young children as they may not be able to handle them gently. They also have sharp teeth and claws, which can cause injury if they perceive threats and danger. Furthermore, opossums could pose health risks for humans when kept close to them. Handling them with care and respecting their boundaries is crucial.

In conclusion, while opossums can make good pets for the appropriate owner, it is important to comprehend their demeanor and social needs before deciding to bring one into your home. It's also crucial to confirm that it's allowed for you to possess opossums in your location by consulting your local rules and regulations.

Ethical Considerations

Conservation and Wildlife Impact

When considering owning a pet opossum, it is important to take into account the impact it has on the wildlife population and ecosystem. Native to both North and South America, opossums have seen a drop in their population as a result of habitat loss and other factors. Opossums, like many other wild animals, play essential roles in maintaining ecological balance and should be allowed to fulfill their natural behaviors without human interference. It is important to ensure that owning a pet opossum does not contribute to the decline of their wild populations. 

One way to ensure responsible ownership is to adopt a rescue opossum instead of purchasing one from a breeder. This helps to reduce the demand for opossums as pets and supports the rehabilitation of injured or orphaned opossums.

Responsible Ownership

Owning a pet opossum requires a significant amount of responsibility. Opossums have unique dietary and environmental needs, and they require specialized care. It is important to research and understand these needs before bringing an opossum into your home.

Additionally, it is important to consider the legality of owning a pet opossum. In some states, it is illegal to own an opossum as a pet without a permit. To be sure that keeping an opossum as a pet is permitted in your area, it is crucial to verify with the local authorities.

Overall, owning a pet opossum can be a rewarding experience, but it is important to approach it with caution and responsibility. By adopting a rescue opossum and providing proper care, pet owners can help guarantee the health of their pets and the conservation of wild opossum populations.

Personal Experiences

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Owner Testimonials

Many people who have owned a pet opossum have had positive experiences with them. They can be friendly and affectionate. Owners have shared online that their pet opossums were very playful and loved to cuddle, while others mentioned that their opossums were very curious and enjoyed exploring their surroundings.

Living with an Opossum

Living with an opossum can be a unique and rewarding experience. They are low-maintenance pets and can be easily trained to use a litter box. They can be very clean animals and not have a strong odor, though this is not without exceptions.

However, you must keep in mind that owning an opossum as a pet is not legal in all areas. It is important to research local laws and regulations before considering getting an opossum as a pet. Additionally, opossums are wild animals and may not be suitable for everyone. They require a lot of attention and socialization to become comfortable around humans.

In conclusion, for those who are prepared to invest the time and energy necessary to properly care for them, keeping a pet opossum may be a delightful experience. However, it is important to do thorough research and consider all factors before deciding to bring one into your home.

While many people view opossums as potential pets, many others don’t enjoy having them in their homes. If that’s the case for you, we at Critter Stop can help! We have a five-star reputation for providing professional wildlife removal services that prioritize the well-being of both animals and humans to commercial and residential customers in Texas and offer industry-leading guarantees as well. Contact Us today at (214) 234-2616 and book a free inspection and estimate today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What states is it legal to have a pet opossum?

Laws regarding pet opossums vary by state and even by county. It is important to research and understand the laws in your specific area before obtaining an opossum as a pet. Some states, such as Virginia and Pennsylvania, allow opossums to be kept as pets with a permit, while other states, such as California and New York, prohibit opossums as pets altogether.

Can you have a pet opossum?

Yes, it is possible to have a pet opossum. However, opossums are not commonly kept as pets and the amount of care and attention they need is not small. It is important to research and understand the specific needs of opossums before deciding to bring one into your home.

How long can opossums typically live in captivity?

Opossums can live around 4-5 years in captivity with proper care. However, if they do not receive the required care and attention, their longevity may be considerably shortened.

What are the general costs associated with keeping an opossum as a pet?

The costs associated with keeping an opossum as a pet can change according to what the individual animal needs. Some general costs to consider include food, housing, veterinary care, and enrichment items. It is crucial to set aside money for these costs. and ensure that you can provide for the opossum's needs before obtaining one as a pet.

What care considerations are important for a pet opossum's well-being?

Opossums require a specialized diet, as well as a large enclosure with plenty of space to climb and explore. They also require enrichment activities to keep them mentally and physically stimulated and regular veterinary check-ups. It is important to research and understand the specific care needs of opossums before deciding to bring one into your home.

Do opossums make suitable pets for most households?

Opossums require a significant amount of care and attention, and may not be suitable for all households. They are nocturnal animals and require a quiet, dark environment during the day. Additionally, they are not social animals and may not enjoy being handled or interacting with humans. It is important to carefully evaluate your way of life and ability to provide for an opossum's needs before deciding to bring one into your home.

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