Baby Opossum Faces Serious Trouble Before An Unlikely Hero Steps In

By Daniel D. Snyder
Mental Flare Staff

Like most baby animals, the North American opossum can’t go too far without maternal guidance. These little guys desperately need their mothers to cling on to; this is how they receive warmth, protection, and milk. And without his mother, Poncho the opossum was in serious trouble.

Just barely out of the pouch, Poncho was already an orphan when rescue workers found him lying on the side of the road. He was clinging to the body of his mother, who’d just been struck by a car. Without her or a lot of help, his chances of survival were slim—but rescue workers had a plan just crazy enough to work…

As a baby opossum, Poncho didn’t have too much responsibility. After growing strong in his mother’s pouch, he’d graduated to clinging to her side as she carried him around from place to place. Life was good… that was, until disaster struck.

MyrtleBeachSafari / YouTube

One night, Poncho’s mother was struck by a car. She made it to the side of the road, but eventually, her strength gave out and she passed away, leaving little Poncho all alone in the world.

Brian Kushner / Flickr

When rescue workers eventually found Poncho, he was still clinging to his mother’s body. He didn’t know how to behave without her or where to go. Now an orphan, he wasn’t going to survive unless the someone acted fast.

Welcome Wildlife

So rescuers took Poncho to the Rare Species Fund, a wildlife organization in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, that was home to all kinds of exotic animals. There, veterinarians provided food, support, and medical treatment. But still, Poncho needed a mother.

Of course, rescue workers didn’t exactly have a few spare opossum mothers lying around, so they were going to have to get creative if they were to find a maternal figure for Poncho. Who could fill the role?

Enter Hantu, a beautiful, white German Shepherd. She had no puppies of her own, but with that maternal instinct in her, the rescue team figured she’d make the perfect mother for an opossum in need.

MyrtleBeachSafari / YouTube

It didn’t take long for Poncho and Hantu to form a bond, but naturally, Hantu had to have a few shortcomings, right? There was no way a dog was going to be okay with carrying a side-clinging opossum around like an ordinary opossum mom. Or was there?

Actually, Poncho hardly seemed to notice his new mom wasn’t an opossum! He clung right to her side as he would his own mother. More surprising, Hantu didn’t seem to mind the hanger-on one bit!

MyrtleBeachSafari / YouTube

Believe it or not, opossums have been around since the age of dinosaurs, and at about 70 million years old, they’re one of the oldest species on the planet. But in all those years, no one likely saw one clinging to a dog until Poncho and Hantu came around!

MyrtleBeachSafari / YouTube

Of course, as Poncho grew older, he wouldn’t be able to cling to his canine mother any longer, right? After all, adult opossums can grow to nearly two feet long and weigh upwards of 20 pounds! But wait for a second…

MyrtleBeachSafari / YouTube

Even as an older opossum, Poncho still hitched a ride on the back of his adoptive mom. Together, the duo traipsed through the wooded area on the rescue’s property, no doubt making Poncho feel right at home.

MyrtleBeachSafari / YouTube

Strange as this relationship seemed on the surface, it was even stranger when you look at the differences between dogs and opossums. For one, in suburban areas, dogs—along with cars—are the biggest threats to opossums!

MyrtleBeachSafari / YouTube

Under normal circumstances, when an opossum spots a dog, he might play dead. This way, he could trick the dog into thinking he’s no good to eat and not a threat. Talk about effective…

MyrtleBeachSafari / YouTube

Still, despite what their natural relationship would be like had Poncho not grown up with Hantu, this opossum was as comfortable as could be alongside his adoptive mother. Just look at how relaxed they both seemed together!

MyrtleBeachSafari / YouTube

This odd (but cute!) couple did more than just raise a few eyebrows and melt hearts; they helped further Rare Species Fund‘s mission: “The education of the public about conservation issues through the use of animal ambassadors.” How’d they do that, you ask?

MyrtleBeachSafari / YouTube

Well, opossums have never exactly been the most beloved creatures in suburbia. With hairless, rat-like tails, mouths full of razor-sharp teeth, and a fondness for digging through trash cans, they can be a little off-putting to find in anyone’s backyard. People often see them as pests.

But for all their perceived faults, they truly are sweet creatures. Paula Goldberg, the executive director at City Wildlife in the District of Columbia, said that opossums “do a wonderful job to keep things in balance in our neighborhoods and in our forests.”

Ultimately, their bad rap, Paula argued, was unjustified. They don’t carry diseases (their body temperature is too low), they aren’t aggressive (just easily frightened), and their diet of roadkill and trash actually allow them to clean up communities!

Maybe the opinion on opossums won’t change overnight. But when cute little guys like Poncho team up with doggies like Hantu, it might help ease the minds of those who aren’t sure what to think of the opossums digging in their dumpsters.

MyrtleBeachSafari / YouTube

Hopefully, Hantu and Poncho’s unique friendship will encourage people to not be so afraid of opossums. You can see more of this dynamic duo by checking out the video below! How cute are these two?

Watching these two together is heartwarming. Poncho is like a toddler who’s too big for his stroller but refuses to give it up! And Hantu, of course, is like his protective mama.

Share this wonderful friendship with your friends below!

Stay up to date on the
latest trending stories!

like our facebook page!