Props: proper respect, recognition – Urban Dictionary

I’ve never given the opossum a second thought unless it happened to scurry across my path in the approaching dusk. Ghostly, ghastly, pallid and grotesque, there were so many more colorful things in life to give my attention to.

Until now.
If Gracie hadn’t caught one, I’d still think that way.
Of course, after seeing one close up… close enough to take a photograph, I was intrigued.
What an interesting looking creature.
My, what big teeth it has.
What does it eat?

Thank you Google – all my questions were answered and I have to share my new-found knowledge about and “props” for the heretofore unknown and unappreciated ‘possum.

Before I reveal what I’ve learned, I must first elaborate a little more on Gracie’s successful hunt. This was the other evening. The days are getting a little longer and my husband took her out to hunt just before dark.  She flew up from his glove, immediately spotted the unlucky opossum and dove for it. As soon as my H saw her go for it, his heart sank as he knew there could be a fight – either one could die. He ran over to her as she tried to subdue her prey and reached her in time to help her dispatch the creature.  It was twice her weight (2200 grams). The opossum punctured Gracie’s foot with its teeth, but she’s o.k.

The Opossum

Close-up of Opossum Teeth

Here’s where we put on our big girl pants and look beyond the grisly photos above. The opossum is beautifully and intelligently designed, the same as something pretty like a butterfly, baby deer or canary. Maybe they’re not cuddly or cute, but I’ve realized that they do deserve some air time.

Here’s what I found:

  • The opossum is the only marsupial in North America. It carries its babies in a pouch (now that’s kind of cute)
  • They have about 50 teeth; the most teeth of any N American mammal. (not so cute, but interesting!)
  • Adults are the size of an average house cat and weigh six to 15 lbs (the one Gracie caught was 5 pounds)
  • Because their ears and tails lack fur they often suffer frostbite on these body parts during cold winters. (this was kind of sad)
  • They have five toes on each foot. (hmmm)
  • They have a resistance to rabies but may still be carriers of the disease.
  • They eat mostly dead things, insects, frogs and like apples, clementines and persimmons (what variety!)
  • When playing possum, the lips are drawn back, teeth are bared, saliva foams around the mouth, and a foul-smelling fluid is secreted from the anal glands (Wikipedia) (now that’s cool and gross at the same time)
  • Sometimes, they actually look cute (take the baby photo above for example)

Hopefully, I’ve given the ‘possum a proper nod and that if you ever see one, you’ll look past their long snouts, sharp teeth, beady black eyes, oily skin, coarse fur, parasite-carrying, rabies resistant bodies and appreciate what’s good about them.

What do you think? Cute or gross?

  • http://www.decoybetty.com Deidre

    I moved to Australia from American 3.5 years ago. And Possums never really bothered me until one tried to climb into my window while I was sleeping. Let me say, I then firmly fell on the side of NOT CUTE.

    but from a distance when they aren't trying to sleep with me, I find them toeing the line!

  • Sarah

    Definitely a combination of both – the baby is so cute, but the other one with the big teeth – not so much!

  • http://twitter.com/elizabeth_agd Elizabeth Mason Ruth

    Visiting from the SITS Cocktail Hour. I know you weren't officially called yet but I wanted to say "hi".
    http://morethana-mom.blogspot.com

    • http://thefalconerswife.com The Falconer's

      Hi – thank you so much for stopping by!

  • http://colormeuntypical.blogspot.com Untypically Jia

    I think almost anything as a baby is adorable, but man . . . the adult ones (especially the dead or faking dead ones) are just plain gross to me.

  • http://twitter.com/buriedwithkids buriedwithchildren

    I have never seen a possum that close before. Kinda ugly is what I think but your first picture made it look good. :)

  • TRR

    My best friend's mother used to rehabilitate possums. She had a mama possum for a long time. It had tons of babies. You could pet them and everything. It was awesome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ann.odle Ann Odle

    I found you thru the cocktail hour & love this site! I'm subscribing to your feed too.

  • http://safebeauty.blogspot.com Lynn

    Umm…majorly gross! I can't even take a moth up close flying near me, let alone a close-up of what looks like a dead possum. (I could not take the time to stop and read the post because the pics gave me the heeby jeebies! lol!) I hope it was just sleeping, but yeah, definitely gross…

    My best, Lynn

  • http://lemondroppie.blogspot.com Ginnymarie

    I think they are so ugly they're cute! We saw a baby possum eating our jack-o-lantern. Adorable! However, they are not so cute when they are bigger.

  • Frelle

    im going with mostly gross. but i have a soft spot for rodents and woodland critters. :) here from the cocktail chat!

  • http://www.preservinghomebasics.com Caren with a "C

    We get those running through our backyard sometimes as we live not too far from the hills even in our suburb.
    Visiting from SITS cocktail.

  • http://www.lindsayblogs.com Lindsay

    Opossums still gross me out. Sorry :)
    They're just so stinky and have beady eyes and I always see them dead everywhere so they must not be all that smart. Still, it's pretty awesome that Gracie caught that opossum and brought it down.

  • http://www.thesaturdayeveningpot.com TheLuckyWife

    Definitely gross! (Except for the picture of the baby one… that one is actually cute!) Great facts, though, and my… those teeth! Love your blog!

    Thanks for the comment about the risotto… hope you and your husband enjoy it as much as we do.

  • http://www.periwinklepapillion.com/ Sara

    Your blog is why I love blogging. Never in a million years would I have thought that I'd read or enjoy reading about falcons or opossums. Your blog changed all that for me. I'm fascinated by the posts and the photos. Thank you for sharing this unique view. Found you via SITS cocktail hour – looking forward to future posts. BTW I think opossums are kinda maniacal – I don't like the way their beady red eyes dart at you when you catch them in your beam. Freaky!!!

  • http://twitter.com/girlyfight Girlyfight

    Hmm, I'm not sure if they're cute but I hate to go so far as to say they're gross. Those teeth are a bit terrifying though! Very interesting read – I feel like I've learned something!

  • http://outoftheextraordinary.wordpress.com/ InspiredDreamer

    Wow, what an interesting post! I never knew that much about possums! Thanks for sharing. (Stopping by from SITS)

    Have an Extraordinary day!

  • Elle

    Cute and gross at the same time!! All babies are cute, yes I said it. All adults, well, not so much.
    I love your blog, it's always entertining and interesting.

  • Strictly Simple Styl

    When I see the little baby one it looks sweet, but I remember pulling up to my house late one evening in time to see a huge possum slinking around the side of my garage. I sat in my car for the longest time worrying that it would somehow follow me into the garage. That particular possum was not cute. I swear it looked me straight in the eyes and sneered!

  • Austin Girl

    Baby possums! I love all animals. This was such a strangely interesting post! Thank you for stopping by my blog last week. I will be visiting again. So awesome!

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