Wildlife I’ve Met: A Partial List

A family of o'possums moved in under our patio deck. There was new construction in the distance, making a frightening roar that must have terrified wildlife. The destruction of habitat and triple digit temperatures were likely factors as well.

I first noticed the mother ‘possum one night when I looked out onto the patio. I noticed a gray, spiky-haired creature there, deeply hissing then displaying a pointy-toothed pseudo smile. Head lowered, eyes seemingly glowing red, it was like a scene from The Amityville Horror. I was okay with this. In my wandering wild-child childhood of sorts, casual caretakers allowed wily wildlife inside our home – adding to the existing chaos.

“Is the dog chasing that squirrel again? Why can’t we have any peace around here?”

“I don’t know. Now where are those children?”

My cat Alaska gave the mother ‘possum mellow consideration. Our dog Sugarbear was not aware of its presence, being asleep under the bed at the time. I was afraid he might have gone one-on-one with the little creature. I could imagine a nasty confrontation, and didn’t want my puppy punctured by a 'possum, which might have rabies or something. The mother ‘possum became frightened and ran into the darkness. At least it hadn’t run into the apartment.

'Possum patrol, night two. I must check the patio. Where's that flashlight? I wonder if 'possums like Tender Vittles?

We are once again in close proximity with a 'possum. As I was working at my computer last night, a young 'possum discreetly entered through the open patio door. As I later entered the bathroom, I met the creature for the first time. Startled, I quickly backed out and closed the bathroom door. I gathered my wits and went back in to check things out. The tiny animal was standing next to the toilet, giving me a soulful, fearful look. He/she (I didn’t check) was very cute. It seems that nature is ingenious in this way, in making babies cute - or most anyway.

The question was: how to get the creature out of the apartment without being bitten, or without psychologically scarring the little one? I thought of throwing a towel over it, grabbing it and quickly hustling it outside, but imagined that it would go totally wild and make horrible wild animal noises like some demon from hell. I really wasn't up for that.

Though not a compulsive internet poster of photos, I briefly considered taking its picture, but then thought not. What the little creature needed was not marsupial paparazzi, not a flash of light in its eyes. I was hesitant to flush the toilet as well, as it might have become airborne from fright. I tried to lure it out of the bathroom with a trail of Tender Vittles, to no avail. I eventually turned on the bathtub faucet and the startled animal made a mad dash for the living room. It was very cute, seemingly uncoordinated, doing a waddle/run type of thing.

In the living room I found it in a corner next to a bookcase, and I couldn’t get it out. I didn’t want to nudge it or harass it with the broom. I penned it up there for the night, or so I thought. We could not find it this morning, but have a feeling that it will turn up.

It's been a couple of days since the most recent 'possum incident. The ‘possum family seems to have deserted the patio. It seems that the local wildlife community has not sent a search party for their strayed little one. Yesterday I had a brainstorm, suddenly thinking Aha! The closets! It was a perfect place for the little animal to settle in. My sliding closet door is left slightly open, so it likely slipped in there!

I assume that by day the 'possum sleeps in the deep recesses of miscellaneous belongings, or hides elsewhere. Then, by night, it likely runs around the apartment, eats pet food, and drinks a little water, before going back to bed in its cozy closeted den. Perhaps it has been migrating from area to area, as our laid-back house pets look on. Perhaps the dog, cat and ‘possum even developed a bond of some kind, playing cool little animal games, chasing each other around during the night, while talking and laughing hysterically about Homo Sapiens, in squeaky little animal voices.

But seriously, this situation was beginning to make me kind of nervous. What if one day this adolescent monster ‘possum comes lumbering out of the closet, with an attitude? 

In the middle of the night I awoke to the distinctive sound of rustling plastic in our bedroom closet. Sugarbear barked once. I got up and turned on the light. I looked into the closet and didn’t notice anything leaping into my face, crawling around, or otherwise moving. I went back to bed. Later we’ll make an effort to relocate the little creature ourselves, as I don't really want to call Animal Control in on this. Again - I don't relish the thought of a rapidly growing marsupial living in my bedroom.

Oh well, I had been meaning to clean out that closet anyway.

We’d searched a bedroom closet in vain for the baby ‘possum. That was several days ago, and it seems that we were shortsighted in our search. The baby has turned up again, and appeared happily settled in, bright eyed though not bushy-tailed. Apparently living on cat food, it looked a little bigger as well. (My family would have been proud!)

At first we’d seen the little one peeking around a gray suit jacket in a closet, but it vanished. I then found it living in an old army jacket pocket. We should have thought of that sooner! Of course, it was seeking a warm, comfy pouch, like its mother’s!

Now came the time to release the animal back into its semi-bucolic familiar territory of fields, trees and intermittent housing tracts. I opened the cat carrier and it emerged, walked slowly, then ran away through the deep grass and brush.