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.