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  • Writer's pictureCari Mackey

Common Opossum of Panama

Oh how I hope it lives through the night, is the first thought I have when someone brings me an animal to take care of. If it can make it through the first night, odds are it will survive to be released back into the jungle which is always the goal. 

Three nights ago my neighbor brought me this amazing, tiny opossum that was orphaned as a result of a dog attack on its mother in a town a couple of hours away. Being the local dog rescuer, someone called her about this sweet little baby opossum they found that needed help and because we don't have a wildlife center and her house is full of adopted dogs, she brought him to me.

Poor little thing was terrified, cold, and thirsty. Ryan and I got right on it getting him warm fluids, a warm place to sleep, and a long night of feeding and hoping he would make it, which so far he has.

Having learned from a veterinarian friend of mine who has cared for many orphaned opossums over the years and being in touch with experts, we are doing our best to ensure this sweet baby makes it back into the jungle some day along with Flora and Faunawho are now enjoying their days in the surrounding jungle but still find safe refuge with us at night.

Opossums are resilient animals that, unlike many others, have been able to adapt and survive in areas where their habitat has been destroyed. A nocturnal animal who calls the jungle home, we commonly see them here outside the restaurant at night crossing the ropes we hung for the monkeys to cross while the canopy tries her best to grow back.

After foraging all night on a wide variety of foods like fruits, bugs, worms, snakes, and even birds, during the day, they rest inside the burrows they created. They carry nesting material with their mouth and prehensile tail into tree cavities, underground, or up in palm or fig trees and sometimes in abandoned nests of other animals where they will call home for a few days until they move on to another spot. 

Though they spend most of their lives alone, opossums will hook up and mate a few times a year, have a gestation period of about 15 days, and give birth to approximately 20 little joeys about the size of a bumble bee. They crawl from the birth canal to the mother's pouch where they latch on and nurse for about 50 days. Inside that warm pouch, the mother only has 9 teats so the young that weren't able to latch on won't survive.

Though they have high birth rate mortality and live a beautiful but short life of only two years, they play an important role in the jungle eco system as seed dispersers, prey, maintain eco system balance by eating a wide variety of foods and their scavenging abilities prevent the spread of diseases plus, they are entertaining for our guests having dinner in our restaurant. 

Join us for dinner and perhaps you'll witness one of these remarkable animals showing off it's mad skills in the jungle that surrounds us and hopefully it will be our newest family member whom we have yet to name. Any suggestions? 

Your Friends in Morrillo,

Cari and Ryan Mackey

Owners and Hosts

Morrillo Beach Eco Resort

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