How does one care for a pet opossum? The same way one cares for any pet, with love, patience and understanding of the animal you have chosen to adopt. That combined with a bit of proper care and training will result in a very unusual pet and years of enjoyment, for both you and the opossum!
Love comes from the heart and is what a true pet owner needs to take responsibility for another life, patience and understanding are needed to deal with others, especially young animals.
First, understand that opossums are arboreal, social animals, and the only common marsupial found outside of Australia. They are born in groups with lots of siblings, litter size can be as much as 10 baby opossums at a time. They look like little rats (but aren't) and like little rats are very intelligent. They learn quickly and one of the first things they learn is how to climb. They are carried on their mother's back and you are now their "mother", so wear a thick shirt and a shoulder pad, you will also need to learn to trim toenails. They will also be very fond of pockets or pouches.
Like all animals, your pet opossum will need plenty of food and water. Food is easy to provide, opossums are scavengers and will eat just about anything. The main problem will be trying to keep them from eating everything, and that includes the trash! Teach your pet to only eat from a bowl and stick to either dry cat food or dog food, no table scraps. This is part of the training and will be tough, but it can learn. If it starts eating human food it will eventually end up digging in the trash, which is messy for you but if it eats plastic bags can be lethal for your pet. Hard, dry food will help keep the teeth clean.
After eating, an opossum will need a toilet, teach them to use the cat-box. It is easier than paper and can be done. Start when the animal is young and it will learn quickly.
All pets at some point have to have baths, the opossum is no exception. It can be very messy and smelly, even if it doesn't dig in the trash, once a week get your opossum use to swimming. Start young and put it in a tub of warm water, but not too deep. Rub it gently with a sponge or cloth and you can even use a mild shampoo. Make a game out of it and afterwards wrap it in a towel to dry off, then give it a treat such as a dog biscuit! Baths can become fun.
Sleeping arrangements are easy for opossums. Like cats, they will sleep a lot during the day; like most arboreal animals, they prefer a hollow space. A small box or even chunk of a hollow log will work well. Keep it near the toilet and food trays and the opossum will never stray far.
The health of a opossum is generally not a problem, they are a scavenger and scavengers are generally resistant to most diseases. Parasites are the main concern, though not if it is eating dry food and kept clean, and most veterinarians can help you with this. Anything safe and recommended for young cats or dogs will do.
Love, patience and understanding; the secret for caring for any pet!