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Friday, October 15, 2010

Night Visitor

Each evening over the past few weeks, we've had a visitor.
Almost like clockwork, between the hours of seven and eight o'clock, he/she arrives for the bowl of cat food, left on the porch, for Oliver the cat.


For those of you who are unfamiliar with this animal it is an Opossum, the only marsupial in North America.
This means the animal carries it's young in a pouch, much the same as the Australian kangaroo.
The name "opossum" comes from the Algonquin Indian name for the animal, pasum.


The opossum is perhaps best known for faking death as a means of defense when attacked.
He is capable of falling over on his side, his mouth open in a death-like grin from which state he cannot be roused until the danger is past, although this is usually done 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.


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. The only thing he’s missing is a dinner napkin.

Here in the Southern states, we refer to the opossum as a 'possum' dropping the 'o'.

I've named him Opie, after the character Opie Taylor from the Andy Griffith Show.

27 comments:

黄清华 Wong Ching Wah said...

A wonderful story and unique encounter.
Wong

Sharon said...

I seldom see them alive! He's a cute one, for sure.

When our son was little, he would ask "when are we going to get to ____?" and we would say how many dead possum, a trip to Grandma's took 3 dead possum. (we figured one dead possum on the side of the road about every 30 minutes) Now we see more dead armadillos than possum.

donna baker said...

We have many around here too. An elderly lady up the road said she once invited neighbors from the other end of the road over and served a possum stew. The neighbors never spoke to her again. She also said they are very fatty and she had to add sweet potatoes to the stew to soak up all the fat. Me, I just like to watch them like you. The old ones have lots of white hair about their head.

HEATHER said...

I've got this same thing happening on my porch only mine comes about 11:00 p.m. Possums really scare me too. They look like giant rats to me!

Bette said...

Love this! Reminds me of the time that possums were coming thru a small opening around the dryer vent to get into my mom's home. There's nothing like waiting up all night to catch a possum.

Tom Stephenson said...

What a nice visitor - who would begrudge him a little cat food? Faking death is my favourite form of self defence too, also as a last resort.

COUNTRY GAL said...

We have them over here in Canada as well, see them in the early mornings crossing the roads! Great photos ! Have good day.

Sandra said...

these are super shots of her/him. adorable in fact. years ago we had a dog that killed things that came in our fenced yard, one morning i saw just outside the sliding glass door what looked like a dead opossum. I slid the door open just far enough to poke it with a broom, noting, appeared dead. closed the blinds and left the kitchen for 5 minutes and when i opened them again the dead opossum was gone. love this post

DJan said...

They are certainly strange looking. I've never seen one, and I guess they must live in southern states other than Texas. That information was very interesting. They have sort of piglike snouts, too!

Carol@The Writers Porch said...

Hey Jo! I think Opie is a dandy!XOXO

Barbara Anne said...

Ta for the lesson on possums. I had no idea they washing up often and carefully.

Isn't having wild creatures visiting your deck, patio, or yard just amazing and wonderful?

A large raccoon occasionally looks in the glass door to our Florida room well after dark, then moves on. Of course, seeing that masked face appear out of the dark is startling!

Hugs!

Tina Eudora said...

Oh Jo how adorable is that? I have skunks who come for the cat food I leave out at night and now they are living under the house!
That little cutie looks so sweet. I have to admit there is very little about the animal kingdom I do not have a soft spot in my heart for!
Bless you for leaving out extra for the little guy/gal!
Tina xo

lisa said...

We have a Opossum that comes to visit our yard all the time..Our dog pulled him off the fence and he played dead..Everyone was sure he was dead..I told them to wait and lets go inside..the teeth look pretty scary!! Went out an hour later and he was gone. I make sure the Opossum is not in the yard before letting dogs out..I am a animal lover...as long as they don't do damage to my home I am okay...They are so ugly but so cute at the same time..Lisa

Doc said...

Ever since we had several of our hens killed by an opossum I have never cared for them, but leave it to your beautiful photography skills to make an Opossum look cute.

laney said...

...a number of years ago we were awakened several nights in a row by our border collie barking frantically at the fire place...an inspection of the chimney yielded no clue...long story short and not going in to the discovery...a mama possum had made her home in the outside vents on the back of the chimney...and proceeded to have three babies...we became quite attached to the family....and they seem to get use to us...peering at them each night with a flashlight...

Andora said...

I have the posums on my porch for the cat food to,thanks for the info about them,,I always liked them,but I like all the animals..lol..

Kim said...

Well, I am so glad to see that I am not the only one that wines and dines these fine creatures. One of mine died in our yard about a month ago and my niece said that it wanted to die there because it is so pretty and peaceful. Well, another one has been frequenting the neighborhood cat bowl in the evenings now so I feel that my wildlife bistro is back in full swing!

Betsy said...

We call them 'possums', too. :) and sadly, we only see them on the side of the road.

Louise said...

I think that they are awfully cute, also. But, if you have horses, you do want to make sure that they aren't allowed near them. Opossum are a major carrier of the disease EPM, a serious and often fatal equine disease.

Mama-Bug said...

Jo this little fella/gal is adorable. They really don't have a mean bone in their body....they just act fierce to frighten you away. In fact when I was a child my grandmother raised a baby one that lost her mother. When she was grown she would still hiss at you sometimes and then come over and take food from your hand. I guess I got loving little critters from my grandmother. They frequently visit my porch down here in Florida. Really love these photos, thanks for caring about these wild creatures.

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

LOL I love that name Opie! We had a possum visit us a couple of weeks ago but our Shep cornered him/her under the picnic table late one night. This little critter was very brave considering our Shep is HUGE! The little fellow growled and snarled but was gone the next day so must have waited until Shep went to sleep before sneaking off. Great pictures Jo! :)

George said...

These are great pictures of your night visitor. We have a couple of night visitors as well, but so far we have not spotted a possum.

AJ-OAKS said...

A possum!! How cool is that! Around here the only ones you see are dead on the roads. Poor things.
I have only had one encounter with a possum and it wasn't very pleasant. He/she was helping themselves to the cat food, I walked out and startled it and it stood up on its hind legs, growled and hisses at me, which I in turn went a got a broom to shoo it away. Probably scared it as much as it scared me!

Anita said...

Sweet!!I want to hold him or shee??

beautiful photoes and writing

Verde Farm said...

Wow-what a great photo op. You got a great shot, up close. We drop the "O" here too. Cool story-I had no idea they carried their babies in a pouch :)
Amy

Deanna said...

We call them possums also.

Have had a few encounters with them over the years. They are very clever.

God bless,
d

Susan said...

we also have a nightly patio possum
visitor!