Monday, June 19, 2006

Wildlife

June is bustin' out all over here in Portland, as evidenced by the encroachment of various forms of wildlife. Darn critters! Don't they know they should just let us steal the green spaces where they used to live and find someplace else to go?

The most exciting encounter we had was a real shocker. Last Thursday, Argotnaut was getting ready to head to her last final exam and went into her office to grab something out of her backpack. At first she thought one of Buddy's furry dog toys was under it, but then the toy moved! Turns out, it was a juvenile opossum! The little guy was about 6" long (without the tail) and just wanted to wedge itself under one of A.'s many bags. He looked a bit like this:

I fetched one of the cat carriers from the garage and managed to deposit him into that. Fortunately I did that while A. was still at home so she didn't have to worry about the little dude whilst taking her exam, which I know she would have if she wasn't sure Mr Possum was safe.

After a bit of Internet research, I called a local critter control service and they confirmed what I'd found...if the opossum is more than 6" long without the tail, it should be able to fend for itself. We had seen Mommy Possum scurry under our next door neighbor's deck during the last couple of weeks, so I was advised to put the carrier near there after sundown and leave the carrier's door open. In the meantime, I put a shallow jar lid of water and another shallow jar lid of moistened dry cat food in, which Mr P scarfed down at some point during the day. That night, I put the carrier facing the chain link fence that separates us from our neighbor. The chain link was more that wide enough for him to scoot through, and by morning, he was on his merry way.

The only thing we couldn't figure out is how he got in. As one can see from the pictures in the "For the love of dog!" post below, there's no direct access to the cat door for any critter which can't jump, which opossums can't. Also, once in the house, how did he avoid the three alpha predators that live with us, especially Buddy, a terrier bred to murtilate little furrballs.

My theory is that Cookie must have caught him out in the cat coop and he played "dead." Cookie then brought him inside to give us as a prize, a disgusting habit cats have, although it's a sign of affection...I guess.

Fortunately for this hummingbird, he was flying around the other side of the house and nowhere near Cookie's inescapable maw:


Of course, Cookie might not have noticed him, being preoccupied with his fight against literacy:

That's okay, Cookie. I don't want to read about George W anyway.

2 comments:

Tavia Rowan said...

Earlier this year, we had a visit from one of these critters (the possum, not the cat) too. S/he was sitting on the back deck, leaning against the slding glass doors. Of course, our cats were growling and hissing, and Mr Possum showeed NO interest. Not very bright, are they? I finally had to toss something at her (?) to get him (?) to leave. But s/he looked really cute.

argotnaut said...

I posted a picture of our little visitor on flickr. Not the best photo, because I didn't want to torment the poor little guy/gal with flashing lights -- just a quick cellphone snapshot.