Thursday, May 29, 2008

I have a deck in the back of my apartment, with stairs down to ground level. The area is surrounded by trees, and there's a creek not a half mile away. This means there is a teeny bit of wild life around. Once about 7 years ago, there was a bobcat momma with her *kittens?cubs?* babies living in back of the building here. Dallas animal control took them away and relocated them to wilder environs with less roadways.

I let the dog out back late Tuesday before bed, and I saw she didn't go down the stairs immediately. I looked around the deck through the window, unlocked the door and stepped out to see doglet standing, curious, over a little furball thingie.
At first, I thought some disused old stuffed animal had found its way to my deck, but no, it was a dead little possum on its side. Not adult, but not still on the teat - adolescent. Maybe 2 pounds. But wait, I saw a whisker quiver. It's breathing.

Doglet's doing the Scooby Doo curiosity "rowmpf?" and little possum is, well, playing possum. I immediately scoop up the doglet and set her down on the stairs, closing the deck gate behind her and turn back to regard the wee beastie. I think "what do I do?" Eek. I see a big stick and for a millisecond consider trying to flip the dadburned thing off the deck, golf-style. Nope, not smart. Fur and teeth and claws contingent will come out fighting big stupid pink monster.

SO, its eyes are wider now, watching me. I'm 6 feet away and turn to see doglet is pacing outside the gate, wanting back in to sniff this curious thing. I look back at the possum which has gotten up from its side, onto its feet, crawling in a low crouch to the edge of the deck. Up it went on the hardware cloth I put up around the deck railing, never looking back as it climbed over and disappeared into the night.

I was so relieved. Um, when I was talking about the beauty of nature recently, well, that's not quite what I meant. I hope the whole possum clan won't be lurking about. I don't want to lose the doglet in a possum-related incident.

Possums are funny, because they have that crazed rictus of a mouth, and they're almost kind of cute, but they're kind of evil-looking. They're kind of mean I think, and they carry fleas and diseases. But for all that, possum is one of the cutest animal names ever, don't you think? Lil' possum. That's just darling!


Rabbit said...

Nah, possums are so ugly they're cute. I've got maybe 3 that live around my house- looks like a pair of juveniles and a mama. I've seen them rummaging around in my front yard flower beds and back between the fences when I come home in the evenings. They're usually out later than all the rabbits in my alley. Possums are also so dumb that they almost never die of old age.

At least it wasn't a skunk.


steff66 said...

i loves me some possum!!! theys good with taters and gravy

Thud said...

As a brit I just thought they where made up creatures for the Beverley hillbillies.

leazwell said...

Awww, phlegmy, it's just nature welcoming you and doglet to the neighborhood. Sweet.

HollyB said...

For a City gal, you shure are wise to the ways of critters.

Christina LMT said...

@ Thud - LOL!!!

The (o)possum, not to be confused with the Australian possum!

Good thing you got doglet away before the beast got all up in her face, Phlegmmy!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I don't think I've ever seen a possum in real life. How big do they get?

Zelda said...

I detest possums. They give me the willies. I hate the way they play dead and I hate their whitey faces. They remind me of the inbred child who played the banjo in Deliverance.

g bro said...

I love them - they are so comical! We have had many generations visit our house. One momma would let them come up on the porch one at a time to snitch cat food. One had been coming for some time and got a bit thick in the middle. I accidentally spooked him and he ran off the porch. Only he wouldn't quite fit. So here he is, wedged sideways between the railings, paddling his back feet frantically for several seconds before finally ooching his way to freedom. Thought I was going to pass out from laughter. Another time, I spooked a little bitty fella who had sort of cornered himself between me and the recycle bin. He gave me his best baby growl while shivering in fear. I retreated to let him escape. I even saw a little one in the flower bed here at the temporary quarters. I just can't get enough of them. (However, I wouldn't let a little old lady dog chase them, either.)

Geoff said...

Opossums are pretty harmless for wild animals. They may give a nasty bite, but they aren't going to turn doglet into confetti. They're quite passive creatures. They're pretty much all bluff.

They're extremely near sighted so standing six feet away would have rendered you a blur at very most.

As for being disease-ridden, not so much. They CANNOT carry rabies, as their body temperature is too low for example. (Marsupials are immune to rabies.) By the way, if you see a possum foaming at the mouth, it's been eating cat food. Something in the saliva reacts with a common substance in retail cat food.

I've handled them in the past working at a zoo. They get a bad rap for being ugly, but they're nifty little critters.

Rabbit said...

Barbara, the biggest one I've ever seen was about 6 or 7 pounds. It had been on a fairly regular diet of dogfood in my back yard. They're about the size of a large domestic cat but appear larger because of the guard hairs of the fur and that big naked tail is about the same length of their body.

They'll leave rather than fight, and 'play possum' or play dead if there's no other option. Back one into a corner, though, and it'll put on a display of teeth and hissing that makes you think you've cornered some prehistoric critter from the top of the food chain....well, ok, they're prehistoric, sort of, but pretty low on the food chain around here.

Kinda greasy if you ask me, but ok in a stew.


Lin said...

I'm surprised he got up and wandered away while you were around. Mark once played shuffle-board with one all the way down the driveway and it never budged.

Given that they used to rifle the USED cat litter bag, the thought of eating one just doesn't do it for me. Of course I'm not starving yet either.

DW said...

I guess we have some giants around here, I have killed one that a land owner asked me to get rid of that went better than twenty pounds. I know they look and act slow, but they can catch and eat rats and mice. I've caught a bunch over the years for one reason or another, and gloves are a good idea.