Friday, February 20, 2009

Possum - Not Just for Dinner

You know I'm kidding, right? I just had to find a way to work this story into our Fatal Foodies theme.

This happened last year, and I got to thinking about it yesterday and decided to share it with you. It was spring break and the children were out of school. We heard a commotion outside and found the cats (ours and the neighbors') after a baby cardinal. Normally, I'm terrified of birds; but I decided to try to save this baby bird. Maybe I was thinking of Fannie Flag's A Redbird Christmas or I just couldn't stand to have any parents watch their child be terrorized and possibly devoured. Yes, both the cardinal's mom and dad were hovering. I'd chase the cats away, and they'd swoop down to check on Junior. I was afraid I might get flogged, but they seemed to understand I was trying to help (unlike a certain robin I can recall vividly).

While the children and I were trying to save the baby bird, another mom walked through a neighbor's yard. It was a white possum with a back full of gray and white babies. As I watched her stroll along, one of the babies fell off! I watched to see if the mom would come back, but she didn't. Now, I had to save a baby bird AND a baby possum! But--first things first--I had to save my own children. I ordered them into the house, thinking possums (possi?) are nocturnal and shouldn't be out during the day. Perhaps the mom had rabies.

Keeping one eye on the baby possum and one eye on the baby bird, I grabbed the cordless phone and called 9-1-1.

"9-1-1, what's your emergency?"

"Um...there's a possum...roaming through our neighborhood."

"WHAT is your emergency?"

"It's a...a possum. She's roaming through our neighborhood in broad daylight with her babies on her back. I think she may be rabid."

"You'll need to call animal control."

"Oh. You don't do that?"

"No, ma'am."

For those of you (dispatcher) who think a possum walking through your yard in broad daylight is not an emergency, have you seen a possum up close and personal? Yes, they have cute little faces; but when they open their mouths and hiss at you, you can see that those mouths are full of sharp little teeth and they look menacing and downright scary. Unless they are little bitty baby possums. Then when they hiss at you, it's cute. I know because when I went to check on the baby possum, it hissed at me.

I called animal control and was assured that the possum was most likely NOT rabid, especially since she was carrying her babies. I asked what I should do with the baby. The animal control guy said the mom might miss it and come back and get it.

"But what if she doesn't?"

He told me of a woman in the area who rehabilitates possums.

The possum whisperer.


I called my husband and apprised him of the situation. I told him we HAD to take the baby possum to the possum whisperer if the mother didn't come back and get it.

"Gayle, leave it alone."

"I can't!"

"It'll be fine."

"It won't be fine. There are cats out there ready to tear it apart. They've already chased a baby cardinal under a porch. I can't even get to it to help."

Silence. I could nearly hear Tim's eyes rolling.

"I'll see you when you get home for lunch," I said. "I'm going out to move the baby possum somewhere safer."

You know, it's hard to move something you want to help but are terrified to touch. However, if the creature is small enough, you can slip it upon to the tip of a shovel and place it gently among your neighbor's mulched pine bushes.

When Tim came home for lunch, I took him to the neighbor's house and showed him the tiny, defenseless possum.

"When you get home this afternoon, we'll take it to the possum whisperer."

"Gayle, please leave it alone. It's mother will probably come back for it."

"If she's going to come back for it, she'll do so by the time you get home. Otherwise, we'll take it to the possum whisperer."

Not long after Tim got back to work, he called me. "Wanda wants the baby possum. She raises sugar gliders and wants to rehabilitate the possum. Get it ready, and we'll bring it back over here when I get home from work."

Prior to Tim's arrival back at home, I looked all around the house to find something in which to transport a baby possum. All I could find was a Styrofoam cooler. I poked some breathing holes in the top and, once again making use of the shovel, placed the baby possum in the bottom of the cooler. Once again, the possum hissed at me.

As we drove back to Tim's office, I sat with both hands clamped onto the sides of the cooler. Sure, "Hissy" was cute as it could be and I wanted the very best for it, but if it managed to escape the cooler, all bets were off. Then I looked up and noticed we were driving through the ritziest neighborhood in town. I started giggling and then laughed until tears poured down my face.

"What's so funny?" Tim asked.

"I was just thinking what would happen if the car broke down here in Country Club and we were found with a possum in a cooler. 'We're the Hillbilly Catering Company, and we deliver!'"

1 comment:

Dana Fredsti said...

HAH!!! That's priceless, Gayle. I used to do feral cat trapping so we could get 'em fixed and vaccinated...and I used to catch possums ALL the time. Better possums than the skunks, though.