Glynn could have been a nature commentator yesterday. No, he didn't wrestle a crocodile in a swamp but he did see 2 deer eating berries along our road and, a bit later, saw an opossum running along the fence line at the mini storage facility!
Coincidentally, a video clip educating me about the importance of all animals in our ecosystem (even those that cause us to shudder) was awaiting my viewing when I turned on my computer this morning.
Truth be told, glancing at a possum's hairless, thick tail causes me to throw up a little in the back of my throat. They certainly aren't the prettiest of creatures roaming the terrain and their bumbling gait gives one the impression that a possum isn't the 'sharpest knife in the drawer' either. They have poor eyesight which may be the contributing factor in finding so many of them as road kill on our highways.
I learned, however, that opossums are totally harmless and, because of their low body temperature, the rabies virus cannot survive in their system. They are non-confrontational and have one goal in life: food. Once a possum has met his caloric needs for the day, he sleeps. If confronted, his first line of defense is to hiss. If that doesn't work, he faints. He can remain in a fainted state for 30 seconds up to hours long. In fact, it is not unusual for an opossum to be eaten alive for this reason!
But the coolest tidbit about opossum revolves around the pregnant female. Gestation is only 13 days, after which mom births 8 or 9 embryos into a pouch, much like a kangaroo's pouch. (They are a marsupial, by the way.) The embryos are so small, 20 could fit into a teaspoon. In this pouch are 13 teats. The embryos latch onto a teat, suckling their nutrition for 2.5 months straight.
Soon the babies are too big to remain in the pouch. At this stage, one may see a momma possum carrying her babies on her back while she forages for food. This is how they learn survival skills.
The babies are weaned at 3 months and, by 4.5 to 5 months old, once they fall off momma's back, they are on their own.
The video clip showcased a possum named Clara, a house pet of a veterinarian. Being newly educated about her nature, and averting my eyes from her nasty tail, I find Clara rather cute! I wonder if Otis would welcome the presence of an opossum in our home?