This post originally appeared on PETA.org
During spring and summer, mother opossums carry their young inside pouches on their mid- to lower abdomen. And as temperatures around the country rise, opossum families are increasingly on the move.
In areas where their habitat overlaps with that of humans, these animals face risk of being hit by cars or attacked by dogs. Now, one startling photo is reminding people that even if a mother opossum has been injured or killed, her babies may still be alive inside her pouch.
Young opossums in this situation can remain alive and will suffer from dehydration, starvation, or exposure for up to several days.
What You Can Do
If you encounter an opossum who appears dead—and it’s safe to do so—checking inside her pouch for offspring could save a life or even a few lives! A baby opossum can be as tiny as a fingernail or up to several inches long.
If live babies are present, they should be rushed to the nearest veterinarian, animal shelter, or wildlife rehabilitator to be assessed. You don’t want to risk causing further harm to the babies, so it’s best to transport them while they’re still inside the mother’s pouch.
Always keep an eye out for animals on the move—there are ways you can help keep them safe. And share this information with your friends and family. It could make a world of difference for an animal—or animals—in need.