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South Florida Wildlife Center sees rise in baby opossums

Center receives about 200 young opossums in 2 weeks

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Summer is known as baby-making season in the animal world, and there's one place that has quickly become a necessary nursery for hundreds of baby opossums.

The South Florida Wildlife Center is flooded with the marsupials as they become orphaned in South Florida's urban areas.

"This summer in particular, we have gotten in a lot of babies all at once," nursery supervisor Jessica Sonzogni said.

According to Sonzogni, the center has received about 200 baby opossums in just two weeks. She said most of the opossums' mothers had either been hit by a car or were attacked by dogs.

Born the size of a dime and without a mother, the marsupials would never last in the wild. So employees at the South Florida Wildlife Center become substitute mothers, simulating what would happen in the animal world.

The babies will only stay at the center until they are 8 inches long, which is at least 3 months old. They will then be weaned and released back outside to survive on their own, a feat which can be difficult in developed South Florida.

"What is their biggest predator? Is it us?" Local 10 News animal advocate Jacey Birch asked.

"It is. It is us," Sonzogni said. "They do have some natural predators, but humans tend to be where they get in the most trouble."

While some may not like the creatures in their backyards, the animals actually work as exterminators and waste management.

"Opossums eat anything and everything. They are great pest control," Sonzogni said. "They eat a lot of bugs, frogs, snakes."

"They are actually really good when it comes down to they're eating habits for us, (and) they definitely help clean up the environment," Sonzogni added. "They deserve the land and deserve to be around just as much as we do, as much as any species does."

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