Car collisions are a leading cause of death for adult opossums. When an opossum is terrified, it enters an involuntary comatose state (“playing possum”) and freezes in place. This is great for dissuading predators, but evolution didn’t prepare the opossum for automobiles.
The good news is that, if you see a dead opossum, it might not be too late to save a life (or a whole pouch full of lives!) Simply put on a pair of gloves and check for a pouch on the animal’s lower abdomen. If you don’t have gloves on hand or are simply too squeamish to handle a dead opossum, give a wildlife rehabilitator a call and they can likely send a volunteer to help.
If you find joeys still attached to the mother’s nipple, it’s very important not to remove the joey yourself or you could cause it serious injury. If the joeys have fur and open eyes, it may be safe for you to remove them from the pouch yourself. Please contact your local opossum rehabilitators for help with your next steps!