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Possum Playin'

Updated on March 14, 2012

As I awoke this morning, after dreaming of cats and dogs, I saw two of my cats between the front window and the Roman shade. The shepherd's hook outside holds two bird feeders and I figured they were transfixed by the hungry birdies. Well, I was wrong. They were transfixed - but by the opossum who was having difficulty maneuvering gracefully on the slippery shepherd's hook. I pulled up the blind and perched on the bed to watch.

It was quite a comical sight. The foot-long silvery-gray opossum struggled to hold on using his (I guess) tail and dexterous paws. He even resorted to using his sharp teeth to hold on with little success. My husband sent the dog out to chase it off but she never saw the creature. Then he stood on the front porch and tossed some water on it to scare it away and the animal froze - playin' possum, I suppose. Then he tried poking it with a board and the possum finally ran off under the porch.

The opossum (or possum, as it is commonly called) is the only native North American marsupial. The female has a pouch for her babies like kangaroos do.

The Didelphis virginiana is typically the size of a large house cat with a prehensile tail it uses to help maneuver. It can hang from its tail for a short time (not long enough to take a nap). The possum also has thumbs (halluxes) on its rear feet. The gray creature is primarily nocturnal with a keen sense of smell and will eat almost anything. It likes a wide variety of habitats, but particularly likes being near water.

The opossum generally has seven or eight babies at a time. After delivery the bean-sized infants crawl through the mother's fur to end up in her pouch where they live and eat for about two months. Then they clamber onto mom's back where they will spend another four to six weeks before going out on their own.

Possums are known for "playing possum," or appearing to be dead when threatened, as we observed this one doing.

I enjoyed this little encounter with nature!


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