Diane is leaving for church while I’m just settling in for some tea and treats and reading, when she comes back in the house. “There’s a poor, dead, bloody possum out by the phone pole,” she said.
She went on to church. I went to check. Yes, I know possum can ‘play possum’ but this one was not only merely dead, it was really, most sincerely dead, of blunt-force trauma.
It was big, 12 pounds, at the upper range of size for that animal. In apparent perfect health other than their injuries.
Possum are good animals. They are social and good mothers. They fight Lyme and other tick-borne diseases by eating thousands of ticks every year. They almost never get rabies. They are immune to rattlesnake bites and most other venom. Their prehensile tails are a fifth appendage. They are North America’s only marsupial. They have disturbingly human-looking opposable thumbs on their hind legs. They are not aggressive or dangerous.
They are also not pretty to humans, so we tend not to think kindly of them. But we should.
I collected the carcass in a plastic bag, and put it in the trash. Poor thing.
- Photo from Wikipedia: “Oppossum”
- The Atlantic: America’s Most Misunderstood Marsupial