The Suitcase Lady

Opossum

August 7, 2007, 11:16 pm

I am starting an opossum fan club. I’m hoping all of you will join.

There will be no dues, meetings or cute T-Shirts. The membership requirement is quite simple: always speak kindly (and knowledgeably) about opossums.

Possums need all the love they can get. I include information on these shy creatures in many of my natural science programs for children. Kids are always coming up to me after the programs to tell me about possums who wandered into their garage or under their porch. How the kids’ big macho dads handled the situations is invariably stomach-turning.

As one of the proprietors of the Tooley Cafe, I’ve lived side by side with opossums everyday for years. They are one of my favorite animals to watch, although observation has to be at night as these critters are nocturnal. Their faces always remind me of little Draculas. Their “hairlines” are pointed exactly like his. If caught in a light, their eyes shine red, another Halloweenish feature.

To help you market love for opossums, I will arm you with these splendid, scientific facts:

  • Opossums are America’s only marsupials. (No need to go to Australia to see a genuine pocket mammal, there may be one in your backyard.)
  • Possums have handy prehensile tails which they use as a fifth hand for support and holding things. They do not sleep hanging from trees.
  • Opossums are highly adaptable and will eat almost anything, even rattlesnakes.
  • Mom has as many as 18 or more navy bean size babies. They immediately climb into her pouch, but only an average of 9 will survive.
  • After about 2½ months, the babies are weaned and ride around on mom’s back.
  • The adult opossum weighs 2,000 times its birth weight.
  • Possums put on a threat display when cornered. They pull back their lips showing their 50 pointy teeth and hiss. Leave it alone, and the frightened opossum will be happy to exit.
  • Playing dead is an involuntary coma-like state brought on by fear.
  • The tips of the opossum’s furless tail and ears often get frostbite during winter, turn black and fall off.

I hope by now you’re ready to be opossum fan club members. And I won’t even ask you to knit tail warmers and earmuffs!

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5 Comments for this entry

  • Anonymous

    Opossums really are America’s Sweethearts! Thank you for showing opossums in a positive light, Beth
    http://www.patchworkpossum.com

  • Prudence

    I LOVE OPOSSUMS!!!! I HAVE A BABY OPOSSUM IN MY YARD THAT I FEED AND HIS NAME IS WEEBLES. HE IS SUPER CUTSIE. I WISH MORE PEOPLE LIKED THESE ODD LITTLE CREATURES.

  • The Suitcase Lady

    Prudence…

    I’m so glad you liked my blog. We just had an opossum visit our Tooley Cafe a few minutes ago.

    I don’t know how you found my blog, but if you would like to be a regular reader, I do a post every Tuesday at http://www.thesuitcaselady.com

    Take care,
    Mary

  • Stephen Pruitt

    We love opossums here in Kansas City. The Pruitt Clan always looks for them and puts out food for them when we can.

    Take care, indeed.

    Opossums forever!

    Stephen, Mary, Becky, and Barri Pruitt

  • Giancarlo Calabrese

    Last night after going to bed I heard continual rattling of metal outside. After much investigation I discovered an opossum trapped in the neighbor’s new but empty metal plant container. As it was midnight the best I could do was carefully slide cut bamboo through the fence and into the container. Within a few minutes out emerged a very young opossum. We stayed looking at each other for a good while and then it slowly went on it’s way leaving me with much unexpected joy!