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The beauty of Opossums!

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I've felt very disturbed by a recent thread where some members expressed disdain for opossums, unfortunately an emotion shared by many when it comes to our little understood opossum friends and want to take this opportunity to correct some of the false beliefs held regarding these wonderful animals. We have rescued a opossum, Buddi is her name, and she has been living in our bathroom for about three weeks now. She is absolutely precious and has stolen my heart.

Please check out these informative sites! The National Opossum Society, Opossum Society of the US, Possum Rescue, and here is a great site especially well made by an opossum Mom who absolutely adores her babies with the same passion we love our kitties

Opossums are meticulously clean. Buddi takes frequent baths, as our kitties do. Before and after eating, and sometimes in the middle of her meal, she throughly washes her face and hands. Opossums are the least likely mammal to carry rabies. Even when exposed, due to their low body temperature, they most often do not contract the disease. They also do not get or carry any of the illnesses that concern us with our kitties such as Felv, FIV or FIP. They are even immune to snake venom!

Opossums are not aggressive in any way, are generally social loners, and most definitely not a danger to our kitties or us. They put up a good show when afraid by showing their sharp teeth or even hissing, but actually don't possess even the slightest defensive mechanisms. When faced with danger that doesn't respond to their scare tactics, they fall over and "play opossum", stiffening their muscles, opening their mouths with their tongue hanging out, their eyes glazed over, and emitting a foul odor. Most predators will move on if they think their prey is already dead. Their worst predator, however, is humans and the dangerous, deadly road.

Opossums have been shown to have a greater intelligence than dogs. They have very poor vision, which suits them perfectly since, being nocturnal, most of their activity is in the dark of the night. They have extremely keen hearing and smell.

A remarkable feature is their little hands and feet! They have opposable thumbs on all four, giving them an incredibly "human" appearance! I adore Buddi's little pinks hands and enjoy holding them when she holds my fingers with hers!

Above all of this, opossums are precious beings, just as our kitties are, capable of feeling and expressing love. Buddi enjoys being held and rubbed, with her special little spot, just like my girlies, being between her eyes, and when I scritch her behind her ears, she turns her head in such a cute little way to enjoy it. She has a need to feel secure, and likes to be wrapped in a blanket. When I hold her, she grips onto whatever I'm wearing with her sweet little hands and feet and wraps her tail around my arm. She then lays her little head on my shoulder or against my chest and fully relaxes in my arms.

Please, friends, take a moment to read over the sites above, and I know, as fellow animal lovers, you will all appreciate the unique beauty possessed by opossums! Buddi is truly adorable, such a cutie, and has given me a new love for her species of which, up until now, I have known nothing. I feel absolutely blessed to have had this amazing, rare experience to earn the trust of this sweet animal.
post #2 of 36
Awwww, they sound cute to me! I hadn't really formed an opinion on them..but now I think they are darling
post #3 of 36
I had always had the impression that they are nasty, mean creatures. I stand corrected.
Fred had one as a buddy when we lived in the country. They would hang out on a tree limb together. I guess I needn't have worried about him contracting a disease. It was kinda cute, the possum even came in looking for Fred once when I left the door open on a nice day. It stood up and looked at me and wandered back out the door, Fred shortly behind it.
post #4 of 36
I think there's two reason's people dislike opossums, their slightly rat like appearance and that they will scavenge around in your trash. Of course everyone knows cats and dogs will do that too, even your well fed pet that has no reason.

I have seen dirty opossums, but in their defense when it's been raining for days and there's mud everywhere, you're going to get muddy. It just shows well on their light colored fur.

I did shoo one away from the base of a tree last summer, it had one of the neighbor's kittens treed. The poor kitten was upset and didn't know what the odd cat sized creature was. The opossum itself looked confused over the commotion. When told to "run along" it ambled off without argument.
I much less mind the opossums then I do the skunks around here. Heck, I even think the armadillos are downright adorable.
post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and cute little stories!Sounds as if Fred had himself quite a buddy there, Rebecca! Armadillos, now there's a species it would be neat to get to know, as well! I'm so happy you share my feelings of how adorable opossums are, Natalie!
post #6 of 36
Do you have to worry about rabies???? Living in a rural area we do have possums-I am worried about the cats "fighting" with them.
post #7 of 36
I live in a rural area and the only animals I've seen that worried me about being possibly diseased where a couple of skunks walking around at mid day, there's obviously something very off about that. Mangy coyotes, there was a problem with that a couple years ago, there may still be. Injured coyotes, from road accidents. And a dog that was acting very very weird years several years ago. There is a 'dumb' version of rabies that doesn't necessarily make the animal violent. Something was off about this dog and my gut instinct said get far away.

Never seen a sick opossum wandering about but have seen many that were road victims.
post #8 of 36
Thread Starter 
As I mentioned earlier, Gail, opossums are the least likely of all mammals to become infected with rabies. It's very rare that, even if exposed, a opossum with acquire the disease. Moreso, they don't fight back due to their lack of defensive mechanisms. They either flee if they are able or drop and play opossum, or "play dead", at which time a kitty would most likely lose interest, so having them around is of little to no risk to your cats.

It's such a sad fact that the automobile is so often their demise
post #9 of 36
I am a possum lover!!! When I was a little girl in Ohio, my brother found three abandonded babies - the mom was dead, so he brought them home. We raised them until they were old enough to be let loose in the backyard - we fed them outside till they went on their way.
They are very adaptable, and about 25 years ago started showinng up in NH - my brother was a police officer then, and he would tell the funnest stories about people calling in to describe the stange new creature that they had just seen in the woods, their yard, etc.
When I lived in Swamspcott, Mass several years ago, my landlords asked me to come look at the wild long nosed pig that they had trapped! Of course, it was a possum - after I explained to them what it was, they took it to our local golf course (with a large wody area) and let it loose!
post #10 of 36
My brain is just not working today (ts the vicoden)-I read your post again and spotted the rabies thing. I hope Buddi works out for you??
Can they be litter trained?? I know they like cat food to eat but the diet needs to be supplemented??
post #11 of 36
To each their own

Now I will admit that baby possums are kinda cute. And you will be happy to know that the other morning I didn't hit the possum on the road - he stopped on the other lane and turned back............about 1/4 mile down the road also missed the black/white "kitty" who was heading for the ditch! Thank God for that.

Anyway, the only encounter I've had with adult possums and I really don't like them was when a family of them thought the underside of our mobile home was a good place to live (and in the heat ducts too). We got the humane trap and trapped one HUGE adult (male???) and he looked pretty vicious to us - attaking the bars with those sharp teeth - no way was I gonna get near him!

I'll take your word on the good qualites of possums. But they are not on my list for a pet.

Personally, I'd rather have a cute baby raccoon Got to bottle feed some my cousin was rehabilitating.
post #12 of 36
Thank you Stephanie, for opening my eyes about the opossum. I had now idea about any of those facts. I have never been an opossum hater, I love all animals. But I love them even more now How sweet of you to save little Buddi. You are too good
post #13 of 36
YAY!!! Possum lover!! My only thing is that I always heard they were dirty and would eat absolutely ANYTHING!! I always feel bad when I see one on the road. Thanks for all the wonderful helpful links.

Oh yes, and we need pics of that rescued possum, please!!
post #14 of 36
I read some of the info on them, and found out they eat rats! Anything that eats rats is okay with me! (nope, nobody can change my mind about those...I don't care that people keep rats as pets. *shiver*)
post #15 of 36
I already like the little guys. Once on a zoo walk w/my mom we came across these two ladies at one of the regular chekcpoint, each was holding one & I got to pet the possum. The fur was so soft.
Last summer when I food out in the back for stray cats, a family of possums came to dinner as well.
Racoons now. They might be cute. but they are terrible guests and I am always worried that they'll attack the cats.
post #16 of 36
I had a opposom recently that was hiding in my garage, and killing my chickens around dusk when they returned to thier chicken coop. We did eventually catch him in a humane trap and relocate him. I was very mad about him causing the death of one chicken, and injuring another. But I have to admit when I got a closer look at him in the trap, he was very cute.
post #17 of 36
They're so ugly they're cute

I know we've got them in the woods behind our house. The only question the links didn't answer is why I've seen them outside during the day.

A couple of years ago we had one under the bird feeder, and it was early afternoon (I got a picture of it). Maybe because it was really cold (it was the really nasty cold winter we had a couple of years ago) and it was really hungry.

I know they come around at night. We've got a baffle on the bird feeder (the 'coons will eat all the birdseed), and one night I opened up the back door, and saw a long pink tail from underneith the baffle I think it was trying to see if it could get to the feeders.
post #18 of 36
I dislike opossums for the reason that I had one try to attack me once. Yes, they are normally very peaceful, this one took after me in my own yard. My dog ended up with stitches for protecting me.

While yes, they can be wonderful pets & I do believe everything you told me Stephanie, they scare the bejeepers outta me!
post #19 of 36
When I lived in Kentucky, we had a possum, which I named Pogo, (I know, original! ) come up on the porch to eat our cats food. He got so comfortable he started bringing his wife and children to our house!
post #20 of 36
Thanks for the info on the possum.

My biggest reason I personaly do not like them is because they Carry EPM which is devistateing to horses.

Hope your little one works well for you.
post #21 of 36
They are cute, especially the babies -- I admit that. But once a possum has killed your cat, you just can't feel the same way about them.

It was my folks's cat, actually, 25 years ago when none of us knew any better than to let her outside. A neighbor saw a huge possum going over the fence into our yard one night, and about an hour later, we discovered that Chavela had a long slice down the middle of her abdomen. She survived for almost three months (two surgeries and a lot of time in the hospital), but finally passed away in my lap at the age of 14.

Possums can be aggressive, and they can hurt our kitties. I'm so glad for you, Stephanie, that you have your adorable little friend -- but not all of them are so sweet...and I'm sure you can understand that they aren't popular in our family.
post #22 of 36
We have a few Opossums that come and eat in the yard during the summer nights! They are kind of cute!
post #23 of 36
Originally Posted by catloverin_ks View Post
I always feel bad when I see one on the road.
Yeah that's very sad especially when they could be a female and they could have
babies in their pouch that could still be alive
I couldn't live with myself if I didn't check

I think they're adorable little creatures Thanks for sharing Stephanie
post #24 of 36
Hey Stephanie - opossoms are cute!

You should check out the ones in NZ - they are very different than the ones in the US - they are very cute and they can be kept as pets, my cousin has had a few - they have quite interesting personalities! Just stay away from their teeth!

In the wild, they are notorious for carrying TB which is something that needs to be taken seriously.

You can see one here: http://www.taiko.org.nz/Taikotuku.html
Just scroll down til you see the Brush tailed possum.
post #25 of 36
Okay so do I have to come visit to get a baby possum??? lmao...
post #26 of 36
Thread Starter 
Sure, Jenn! Little babies available to good homes Oh yes, I forgot to mention that Buddi gave birth last week
post #27 of 36
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure how many babies exactly, Pat, since I don't want to disturb or risk harming them by looking in her pouch. 17 were born, to my count, however, sadly, I do know that 3 passed away, as I found them dried up in her bedding, having not made it into her pouch. Opossums have only 13 nipples, with not all always being functional. The journey to their mother's pouch is a very challenging one, and there are always more babies born than will survive. This is nature's way of ensuring that at least some will make it. I truly hope the other 13 are now safely nestled in there being nourished and developing into the sweet little ones who will emerge in a few months!

It's important that I add that the "babies available to good homes" thing was just a joke. I have found an excellent Opossum/Wildlife Sanctuary in my area, and as soon as I'm able to force myself to let go of her, Buddi will be going to live here, where the woman who runs the place is absolutely passionate about opossums, and Buddi will have a special place in her home! This is very difficult for me to do, as I've become so attached to her, but I know this is the best thing for Buddi, since this woman is an expert in opossum care and will be able to provide for her to keep her in the best of health and happiness much better than I. Buddi will also be among others of her own species with an environment to match her natural habitat, but in the perfect security and safety of their care.
post #28 of 36
I just want to step back in to say that of course not all possums are to blame for the actions of the one that got Chavela... and that I hope I didn't seem to be unkind toward Stephanie, who is one of the very finest people on this site. I just didn't want anyone to take unnecessary risks with their kitties, so I thought I should tell our experience.

Thanks for understanding, Stephanie!
post #29 of 36
I'm a 'possum lover, too! They DO look like big rats, and I REALLY love rats!
post #30 of 36
Originally Posted by DawnofSierra View Post
I'm not sure how many babies exactly, Pat, since I don't want to disturb or risk harming them by looking in her pouch.
I think it goes without saying that you would not disturb the babies in any way, I just thought you might have seen them..not thinking about the fact they live in her pouch for a while. Remember, not all of us are up on possums!

If I ever get caught up, I will respond to your last email with my possum story (I have to be honest, I've not encouraged this huge fellow to continue his pooing next to my rose bed and scavenging for food on my deck). He was bright and not scared one bit of me telling him to schoo!
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