Fun facts about opossum:
- Virginia opossum, or the common opossum, are not the same things as possum. Opossum are the only pouched mammal, also called a marsupial, in the United States.
- A female opossum can give birth to a litter as large as 20, but only half of them tend to live.
- The opossum has the shortest gestation of any mammal: 12 1/2 days (I guess the half really matters when it’s that short).
- When born, the entire litter can fit into a teaspoon.
- Opossum eat enough ticks to impact the tick population.
- They do not take kindly to getting picked up with a paper towel.
- They are super-cute, even when you find one in your bedroom while your cat stares at it with confusion.
So this happened.
Every morning El Cap and I take the hellhounds for walk. If we aren’t clever enough to remember to feed the cats before we leave, they follow us. This is a problem because while some of our neighbors think it’s “cute” that we walk our cats, problems arise when Scuppers thinks we’ve strayed too far from home. He does not like to cross the Tangerine Greenway and he does not care for Tomlinson Park, so if we head in either of those directions, he starts to scream. He’s not a quiet cat. People notice. It’s embarrassing.
So this morning, when he chose to stay home, I didn’t think too hard about it (I was barely nose-down into my first cup of coffee, so I really didn’t think too hard about anything) when only Elmo, our somewhat quieter but not altogether bright cat, came along for the walk. It was only after we arrived home, fed both the dogs, and El Cap walked back to the bedroom did we realize why Scuppers stayed home.
Apparently Scuppers had brought a tiny opossum into the house – this is the third one in the past month – and we didn’t have the decency to be there when he did, so he waited with it. Of course, opossum being opossum, the creature fainted (playing opossum), which must have befuddled Scuppers, because after we came home and fed the dogs, El Cap walked into the bedroom, where he found a perplexed cat staring at a tiny marsupial, not quite sure why it wasn’t moving.
To give you an idea of the scale, that’s a paper towel El Cap’s using to protect himself from opossum diseases. And while it may look like this little guy is stretching out his hand in a friendly greeting, I think perhaps he was trying to slap us. He did not seem pleased.
I can’t blame him. Mornings are tough on lots of people.