Saturday January 17, 2004

Opossums - Up Close and Personal

Brenda Ice, a friend of a friend has been doing possum rehab! What a neat idea.

BrendaPossbabe5 Take a look at some of the photos of the baby possums (scroll down when you get to the photo page, but slowly; enjoy the photos of the cats and the deer on your way to the possums :-).

My friend sent out email announcing that she had posted several of Brenda's photos and her possum story to (my friend's) web site. My immediate response was

Ohmygooodness. What an utterly darling baby!

I have two up-close-and-personal possum stories.

The first was many years ago, shortly after we moved into this house. We had an opossum in our backyard one time. And I (accidentally!) kicked it! (Well, not hard; I walked right into it.)

I had gone outside to turn off the water for the lawn, no lights, went around the corner and my foot contacted... something. I looked down. Saw a greyish blob. And had this conversation with myself.

It's... a possum.
      It cannot be a possum. It's the conch shell.
The conch shell is on the other side of the yard. It must be a possum.
      It cannot be a possum. We don't _have_ a possum in our yard!
It is too, I tell you. I'll prove it.

So I went back inside, got the flashlight, came back out and What ho, it _was_ a possum. Playing "I am just a furry rock", legs quivering slightly. I turned off the flashlight and went back inside the allow the furry rock to thaw and leave in peace.

Our other possum story comes a few years later when we attended an talk by some animal re-hab folks. They had (at the time) a red tailed hawk, a cougar, an opossum and some other animals. The possum was a male, at least 10 years old.

He had been removed from the wild at a fairly young age (just old enough to be on his own) by a woman who was hiking along the ridge trail. Apparently she saw this cute little baby possum and said to herself "Oh, such a cute little baby shouldn't be out here alone in the woods". So she popped him in her backpack and took him home. She put him on her couch, where he promptly ate a sofa pillow, so she put him on the floor, where he promptly peed on her rug. (To the great delight of the audience, at this point in the tale the oppossum did a "live demo" and peed on the table he was standing on ;-)

The woman tried to feed the possum dog food, which he didn't want. Finally, after a couple of days, she called the SPCA; they called the re-hab folks. By this time, it was decided that the possum was too used to humans to be released safely; he would be too likely to approach people on the trail. So they kept him. He goes with them to talks (and he'd already lived much longer than possums in the wild usually live).

He was a big male with sharp teeth and weird little "baby fingers" that gripped and moved almost like suction cups when he walked. Strange up close, alien in many ways, but still, rather, agreeable to look upon. He was well past the "cute and fuzzy baby" stage, but not undesirable or unattractive. The re-hab folks said he could be a bit grouchy with people he didn't know but he wasn't aggressive. Nevertheless, they weren't encouraging people to pet him, either.

Another friend, in Oregon, says

...up here possums are very common. We have a couple that hang around our back yard frequently at night, much to our kitties dismay/delight (not sure what it is but they get very hyper when they see Mr. Possum out back). ...
Baby possums are truly the most adorable things!

Perhaps, someday, I'll meet a baby possum. I promise not to kick it in the head!

Opossums - Up Close and Personal ( in category Nature/Cats ) - posted at Sat, 17 Jan, 14:17 Pacific | «e»