Can You Have A Possum As A Pet? What You Need to Know!

Are possums ugly or cute? Or can keep it as a pet? These are popular questions that people ask, the answer largely depends on whether they’ve caused your property problems. Some people sometimes find orphaned possums and think of raising these cute marsupials as pets. While others look at possums as incorrigible pests and want to get them away from their house. But first, you should know if they are legal to keep them as pets. So read this content to know more about them.

What is a Possum?

Opossums are called also possums for the Australasian marsupials the difference between them is that opossums live in North and South America, while possums live in Australia and other countries. They are members of a mammal called a marsupial. Like kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas, possums also have pouches for carrying their babies after birth. Possums originated in South America and entered North America during the Great American Interchange between south and north America.

The most commonly domesticated species of possums are the Virginia opossum and the short-tailed opossum, also known as the North American opossum, which is the only opossum living north of Mexico and is a small member of the family Didelphidae. It is a solitary nocturnal animal, a successful opportunist, and is typically a nonaggressive animal.

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Is It Legal to Keep Possums as Pets?

Keeping possums as pets is a common and controversial practice. But some states will not allow this to occur, it isn’t legal. In many cases, you need a wildlife permit if you want to keep a wild animal as a pet in your home, even if you find a young abandoned or injured opossum, you can be allowed to keep it just until it’s healthy enough to survive on its own and then you have to release him. Below you will find a discussion of the legality of keeping an opossum as a pet in the United States and Australia, just for your knowledge, these two countries, where most possums or opossums live.

The United States is largely dependent on individual state laws. The Possum Society of the US recommends not keeping possums as pets. Here’s a list of the regulations regarding pet possums in all 50 states, but you always need to check the most recent laws in your state of the country before you bring a possum because regulations are subject to change.


States That Permit To Keeping Possums as Pets with a Permit:


  • Arizona (short-tailed opossum)
  • Colorado
  • Florida (all other opossum species)
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon (Virginia opossum)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

States That Permit To Keeping Possums as Pets Without a Permit:

  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Oregon (short-tailed opossum)
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

States That Prohibit Pet Possums:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona (Virginia opossum and all possum species)
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts (except sugar gliders)
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Washington


The Australian government provides that possums can legally be kept as pets provided the animal was born in captivity and you have a license. For this reason, the hunting, trapping, and relocation of possums are illegal.

So, is hard to get a permit to keep a possum as a pet because possums are protected and government mostly grants permits to zoos or similar organizations.

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Possums as Pets:

Possums have specific needs and different ways to care for them, not like other domesticated animals such as dogs and cats, that is why so many places forbid pet possums. Before thinking to keep a possum, do first extensive research about their diet, health issues… and if you can provide a good life for them.

Below are many factors you should prepare for bringing a pet possum.


Possums eat a wide variety of food. His diet includes; dead animals, insects, rodents, and birds. They also feed on eggs, plants, frogs, fruits, and grain and also dine on rats, mice, and roadkill. He can eat cat or dog food and human food waste if he finds it. Possums need a diet high in protein and low in fat. One source indicates the importance of maintaining the balance of calcium and phosphorous that it needs to stay healthy.

Don’t forget a poor diet can result in Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), a case that causes crisp bones and difficulty walking, which is also expensive to treat and potentially deadly.

Lifespan And Health Issues:

The Possums have an unusually short lifespan for a mammal of its size, usually, three years or less in the wild and can live four or more years in captivity as long as they receive suitable nutrition and care. However, they also can become ill quickly including parasites and urinary tract infections. Captive possums extremely have poor immune systems and are prone to bacterial illnesses. Opossums over a year old can suffer from obesity and poor eyesight.

Unfortunately, many vets don’t have the knowledge and experience to treat possums and their health issues effectively. For this, you should find a vet who’s qualified to address his health problems before making a possum as a pet


Possums are usually nomadic and solitary, also they are nocturnal they favor dark, secure areas. Some families you can find in ready-made or abandoned burrows or even under houses, do not dig or put much effort into building their own caves.