Thursday, January 8, 2009

Playing Possum; Or, there's a monster under my shed.

I consider myself an animal lover. Sure I love some animals more than others, but I would never want to harm an animal. Even an animal that totally grossed me out. And rodents totally gross me out.

Mice, rats, possums. I don't want to actually kill them (or even have them killed by someone else). But I do want them to live out their lives peacefully, very far away from me. The thing is, I am more afraid of mice than I am of snakes. I am also afraid of squirrels. Some people find this silly, as mice and squirrels are much less likely to kill you than a snake. (D is terrified of snakes and yet mocks my fear of squirrels). The thing about squirrels (and mice) is that they seem less predictable than snakes. A snake will -- for sure -- try to avoid you (and they can move fast) or they will bite you if they think you will hurt them. I totally get that logic. Snakes aren't found in your parents' pantry (or at least, are far more rare domestic intruders than mice are). Snakes aren't scurrying in and out of trash cans next to the campus library, flitting around with a granola bar wrapper in their mouth. Snakes try to stay hidden, which is what I want scary animals to do.

But mice and squirrels are, well, squirrely. Where do you think that adjective came from? Sure, they try to avoid you, but these guys and their bitsy brains are like one step from panic mode all the time. The world is a big, scary place. Especially if you are a small rodent. And I always feel like the squirrels -- especially the brazen college campus squirrels who let you get so close before they race away -- just might go into a hysterical panic and instead of running away from me, accidentally run up me.

Which would obviously put me into an hysterical panic.

This bizarre fear is perpetuated (and perhaps instilled) by that scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation where the squirrel comes in with the tree, the whole family panics and runs from it, but it is stuck on the back of Clark's sweater, in a panic. Right in that middle spot you can't quite reach. Oh, it gives me the willies just thinking about it. The idea of a mouse or squirrel running up my leg. I seriously just got goosebumps typing this.

I see very few rodents in my daily life, so D had never seen my reaction to one. Then one bright sunny day, we were walking the dogs in our neighborhood, and two blocks from my house, a huge RAT saunters across the sidewalk in front of us. I started wigging out. I was screaming in short hysterial bursts and doing a weird "get it away get it away" leg kicking sort of dance. Cooper was mystified and D was amused but I was dead serious. I could not walk in that direction again for weeks.

Which (at last) brings me to my point.

There is a possom living in my backyard.

At least, I am pretty sure he lives there. He is the biggest, grossest thing I have ever seen. He was first spotted on a night in November, when my parents were here. My mom and I were hanging out in the backroom and all of a sudden my mom starts screeching from her seat on the futon "Look at that! Look at that!" Out on my deck, separated from us only by a few feet and a glass-paneled door, is a freaking possum! And this is a big dude. I mean twice the size of Little Mac. He could probably even give Cooper a run for his money. He is huge and white and has that nasty nasty tail and my mom and I were both totally freaked. He just sauntered across the deck like we had invited him over for cocktails. It was so gross.

I hadn't seen him since then and thought he had mosied on his way (which was fine -- remember, I don't want the possum dead, I just want him out of my life!). But the last TWO nights in a row I have seen him waddling around our backyard and I am afraid he might have MOVED IN underneath our shed. Which is a spot that was reserved for cute baby bunnies who bounced around our yard with their cottontails all summer long (Although I suppose rabbits are sort of rodents, I am not grossed out by them. They are far more skittish than squirrels so they never let you get close, they do not typical invade domestic spaces, and also those tails are so cute!).

So now I am afraid that he has kicked the bunnies out of their home. (OMG, do possums eat rabbits? Surely rabbits can move faster than possums. What a horrifying thought. A baby bunny slaughter under my shed.) And he seems to have taken up residence there. I worry about letting the dogs out at night because I think he could beat up both of them. At the same time. He is HUGE.

I think I might have to stop composting. Our compost bin is next to the shed. Could that be attracting him? I've not noticed any digging in the compost heap and it is well covered with leaves so food scraps are not left out on top or anything. But still! Something makes him think my yard is his happy home!

The above picture was taken of a (much, much smaller) possum who killed a few chickens before the chicken owner caught him, fixed the chicken coop, and relocated the possum elsewhere. I am horrified by what appear to be nearly opposable thumbs on this little dude. Sick!

I am also wondering if anyone would volunteer to relocate this possum that has taken up residence under my shed?

Other advice for kindly suggesting he move on his merry way? Strategies that would not involve me having to come into any sort of direct (or indirect) contact with the possum? Eeek. It's horrifying.


  1. Perhaps, you remember when I had a like guest eat THROUGH THE SCREEN of my garden level apartment and tear into bread loaves and canisters of flour as it shat itself all over the countertops and floors.

  2. Yes -- see my fear of squirrels.

  3. possums do have opposable thumbs and, much like the raptors in Jurassic Park, they can learn to open doors.