Last night as I was writing my blog entry about the Georgia Aquarium the dogs wanted to go out. Katie goes in and out anytime I am on the computer since I am right next to the door. I could hear one of them barking way out in the backyard. Sometimes they see dogs go by on the street behind me or they just hear other dogs barking. But this was more of a high-pitched bark. I decided I had better go back there and make sure they were okay and had not trapped a cat or other critter. They really enjoy chasing after chipmunks and squirrels during the daytime, but they never come close to catching them.
I got out the flashlight to make sure I wouldn’t step in anything and could see what was back there. Along the back fence Katie and Clio were pawing at something on the ground. As I got up closer I could see it was a possum turned over on its back looking dead.
Its fur had wet spots I guess where the dogs might have bitten or licked it. I could see its mouth and maybe its tongue hanging out. I tapped it with my foot and it moved a little. It had fooled me, but it was just playing dead. That didn’t mean that the dogs hadn’t hurt it, but I didn’t see any blood at least. It would be hard to get the dogs back in the house with something so interesting back there so I decided I should move it to the other side of the fence. It looked pretty benign and I was just going to pick it up by its tail, which doesn’t have fur and tapers down to a point Jeb said he had picked one up one time. But, realizing that it wasn’t dead at all and might just bite the heck out of me, I decided that was a bad idea. I took off my sweatshirt and wrapped that around my hand so that if it bit me at least it would hopefully just get a mouth full of cotton. I lowered it down to the ground on the other side of the fence. I don’t know where it lives or if it will be able to get back where it wants to go, but I thought that sure beats getting played with by two dogs. Although it looked dead the whole time, of course it wasn’t there this morning.
P.S.: In September 2006 Katie found another possum, this time in the front yard. I was able to get the picture above and, after putting Katie back in the house, I took this picture of him after he perked up and was walking away (they can remain passed out for about 4 hours, but I have seen resurrections twice and each time it just took a few minutes). I was reading up on opossums (not derived from Latin, so the plural just adds an s) on Wikipedia. It said that they don’t play dead consciously, but are so frightened that they pass out and emit a strong odor (which I smelled last night). The article also said that in adults the tail is not strong enough to support their weight, so you shouldn’t pick them up by the tail.