What Does the Possum Say?
We've been watching and enjoying this deck visitor....and learning. Possums are the ONLY marsupials found in North America....so this is my porch kangaroo!
They are all about the nose and ears, as their eyesight isn't as strong. I kept noticing his "hands" and have read they are special...possums have opposable thumbs!
The cartoon of a possum hanging by it's tail in a tree is not true to life. Adult possum tails do not have the strength to do so and they actually prefer to live underground. However, they are not diggers or miners. Pretty certain ours lives under our deck! When he is frightened off, that is where he slowly waddles...under our deck. We read that they love cat food and will eat carrion but our offering of an old fruit tray and hardened grain bread was also right up the possum's alley!
They will eat mice, snakes, frogs and insects and that makes me a happy landlord. Yes, they are nocturnal but in cold winter months will come out during the day, when it's warmer. 2nd son noted that he came on deck during the days of the coldest nights we've had. He's a weatherman!
They are not aggressive animals and like the phrase, "playing possum," they are "perhaps best known for faking death as a means of defense when attacked. While he is capable of falling over on his side, his mouth open in a death-like grin with saliva running out, from which state he cannot be roused until the danger is past, this is usually done only as a last resort. More likely a threatened opossum will look for the nearest exit and run away (or more accurately “waddle away,” since they cannot move particularly fast). They will also sometimes bare their teeth, hiss, or even growl. With such displays they appear quite fierce, but actually they are not accomplished fighters and are very rarely aggressive." [source]
I've also read that they can excrete a malodorous, "dead" smell while playing possum! Whatta show, but not one I am looking to incite.
"Many people consider the opossum a filthy animal, in part because of his mousy gray coat but also because he’s often seen foraging through trash cans and is known to eat carrion. In truth, however, the opossum is one of the cleanest animals around. They groom and bathe themselves meticulously, as scrupulously as the most finicky house cat, and have even been observed to stop in the midst of eating to clean themselves several times before finishing.
They do not carry diseases generally. The chance of rabies in an opossum is EXTREMELY RARE. This may have something to do with the opossum’s low body temperature (94-97º F) making it difficult for the virus to survive in an opossum’s body."
All in all, he's not a bad fellow and we've been fascinated by his visits...and weather predictions!