Critter Column: Marsupials

by Jack Perkins

I’ve never thought much about pouched-mammals (Marsupials) until one lumbered into our family room last week.  It was late, and while we were sitting numbed and trance-like in front of the TV, a small furry critter entered stage left and moved to center stage right below the BBC production of Sense and Sensibility.

Rat?  No, definitely opossum, baby possum.  We got excited, and I thought what a  cool pet it would be.  It was slightly smaller than my fist, fully-furred, and it opened its mouth wide and hissed, trying to look fearsome but only making me want him even more.

He wasn’t very quick, and we got him in a box pronto, added a nice pillow case for him to cozy up with and even placed a heating pad next to it.  They live outside in the cold and wet but I wanted my possum to be very comfortable for a change.

I got on Youtube and started watching pet possum videos, possums wearing clothes, possums riding unicycles, water skiing, and possum juggling…  I really want a pet possum.  Then I checked out their care and feeding and snapped out of it.

Reluctantly I fired off an email to the local wildlife rescue center and in the morning their reply was: “You can simply put it back outside and it will be fine.

It probably just fell off its mother and is looking for food.  This is normal for the time of year.  Even though it is tiny, it is several months old and needs to be independent.  If you think it truly needs help, take it to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.”

So they crawl from their mother’s pouch and hang onto her fur until they are fully furred, and when they let go, the mother doesn’t wait for them. That’s it, they are on their own.

I’ve been leaving my garage door open a lot lately and that’s how the little fellow found us that night.  We put him in the bamboo hedge in my back yard and a half hour later I went to see if he was okay. I couldn’t find him, but I felt like I was being watched.

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