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North American Opossum
Didelphis virginiana

Featured Image Credit: “Virginia opossum” by Paul.J.Hurtado is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Fable of the Pie Possum and the Leaping Man

On a cold winter night, two people were cozy and warm by the fire, with the smell of a fresh pie baking in the oven. “How exciting!”, the woman exclaimed, “it is finished baking!”

“I can’t wait to eat a piece of that pie,” the man said.

“Hm… it’s too hot…. I’ll put it outside on the table to cool off faster.”

“Great idea!” said the man, and the two settled down on the couch to watch a show.

Suddenly, there was a great commotion. The woman looks over to see the man jump up and LEAP over the couch. “POSSUM!” he exclaimed. In one swift motion, he had thrown open the door and pursued a gray animal running across the lawn.

When he returned, he had the pie in his hands. “I’ve saved the pie!” he said.

“And I’ve actually never seen you move that fast in my life!” she exclaimed. “TWO pieces for you!”

So, I’ve never seen an Opossum play dead literally, and I’m glad I haven’t: “In this inactive state it lies limp and motionless on its side, mouth and eyes open, tongue hanging out, and feet clenched. Fear can also cause the opossum to release a green fluid from its anus with a putrid odor that repels predators.” Eewwwwww!

When I’ve come across one, it has just kind of given me the side-eye. Once (when I lived in a more urban area) I heard some clattering outside on my side deck to find there was an Opossum clinging to the edge of my recycling bin. I switched on the outdoor light, and it just stayed there frozen and stared at me (it did not lie on it’s side and release a green fluid from it’s anus, thankfully). I poked it with a broomstick and was like “get outta here!” …It just kind of was like poking a heavy load of sopping wet rags. It just kind of stared and was like “meh”. But when you see an Opossum stare and go “meh” it’s kind of freaky, and frankly, I poked it one or two more times, and it was like “meh” and so I actually gave up. It freaked me out!

Also, did you know that the back feet of the Opossum have opposable thumbs? I mean, should we be worried?

Alternate Names: Opossum, Possum
Size: About the size of a domestic cat (13-37" long not including tail)
Habitat: Any proximity to food sources, notably trash cans, as well as pet food, compost piles, gardens, rodents, carrion (roadkill).
Identification: "coats are a dull grayish brown, other than on their faces, which are white. Opossums have long, hairless, prehensile tails, which can be used to grab branches and carry small objects. They also have hairless ears and a long, flat nose. Opossums have 50 teeth, more than any other North American land mammal,[11] and opposable, clawless thumbs on their rear limbs. Opossums have 13 nipples, arranged in a circle of 12 with one in the middle. From wikipedia.org
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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