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Wild Animals/Swollen Opossum Tail


Opossum tail
Opossum tail  
Years ago, some one asked you this question...
"I have a Opossum that I raised from birth, he lives inside my house.  She is 1 year old now and I recently noticed that the proximal end of her tail is swollen to the size of a tangerine and the skin surrounding it is reddened.  Is this something that needs attention?"
... I'm experiencing the same exact thing with my 18 month old Virginia opossum. I'm desperate for help.

Dear Melissa,

How odd.  I wonder if this is some disorder that opossums tend to get!

I am no expert in wild animal veterinary medicine, so the best I can suggest is to get your pal to a good veterinarian who advertises expertise in "exotics". (Okay, an opossum is technically not an exotic.  But that's what they call anything that's not a dog or cat, in veterinary lingo.)

It could be an injury or infection, but it does appear to be something that you don't want to leave untreated.

Sorry I can't be more help!


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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.


I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

House Rabbit Society

Exotic DVM journal

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

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