Stuart and his brother, Mickey, were found in Stafford County in August 2018 when they were about a month old and just 27 grams. As he was the smallest of the two, he was named "Stuart" after Stuart Little.
As they began to grow and develop, it was determined through x-rays that they both had metabolic bone disease, a condition where their bones didn't absorb calcium properly. This condition is often seen in reptiles and, if left untreated, can result in physical deformities and death. Fortunately for Stuart and Mickey, it was caught early and was able to be treated with a diet of high-calcium foods and supplements.
Just when it was thought they were on the road to recovery, they were taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro, VA to have x-rays taken again. At that time it was discovered that Mickey's elbows were severely deformed and, despite the fact that he was only about seven months old, they were full of painful arthritis. It was the veterinarian's recommendation that Mickey be humanely euthanized to keep him from having to endure any more pain.
Stuart turned out to a be a bit of a genetic nightmare as well. Although the vet does not believe he's in pain, as you can see from the x-ray pictures below, his hips are deformed. A normal opossum has hips like we do - complete with a ball and socket. Stuart's hips have no socket; the only thing keeping his hips in place are tendons. The result? He has a little more wiggle in his walk, but is otherwise ok. Will this reduce his life span? It's too soon to tell. But, in the meantime, he's an opossum doing opossum things, and is a fabulous ambassador for his species!
He has already helped to correct the misconceptions that many people have about opossums - that they are vicious, aggressive, and dirty animals that carry rabies and are to be feared. Invite Stuart into your life and you will see how awesome 'possums really are!
To see an amazing YouTube video of Stuart's Story that was created by Wild Things Media, click here.
To see the YouTube video of Stuart's first bath, click here.
(Spoiler alert: he didn't like it.)