Thursday, April 15, 2010

Who's That Hiding in the Grass?


Just as we stepped into the road from our driveway, I had to hold Duncan back as he lunged excitedly towards the grass on the other side of the road. "I gotta go, I gotta check this out, Come on come on!" He insisted . I could see two little 'bear' ears. Not moving. So I took a closer look...

A motionless opossum, not moving even a little bit, so I could zoom and snap this picture. He was only about 10 feet away. I've never seen an opossum around here up until now!

Opossums (Didelphimorphia) are not native to California but they're common enough, judging by the unfortunate road kill examples one sees. They are native to the Eastern USA. Did you know they are the only marsupial in North America? - And they have a prehensile tail!

And they do play dead!

This and more info can be found on Wikipedia here

14 comments:

Christine said...

Interesting... I didn't know they weren't native to the West. I wonder who they compete with for food? Raccoons? I'm sure Duncan had much satisfaction in spotting him first!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Oh, I love 'possums. Used to be my nickname...oops...now that's out of the bag. Only because years ago when I was rehabbing wildlife, I had a knack for raising the orphaned pinkies. I used to feel rather sorry for the creatures, they seem so under-appreciated as North America's only marsupial. I find them rather interesting personally.

Rachel said...

Better than a rattlesnake, which is where I thought this was going at first. So if they are nonnative to California, how the heck did they get here? It's no like they are freed pets or anything.

Chandramouli S said...

Possums look cute - never heard of 'em before. Discovering exotic creatures is fun.

Urban Dirt Girl said...

ooooh lovely photo's on your blog not just of the cute little possum but the rolling hills. love it. UDG

Jackie said...

The only downside? They eat tomatoes!

healingmagichands said...

The possum competes with everyone and no one for food, since it will eat virtually anything. They are noted for eating road kill, which is how some of them end up as road kill. Their appetite for chicken is almost immeasurable, to the point where they will climb up the outside of a chicken coop and grab the sleeping chicken who is unfortunate enough to be near the edge. They have also been known to eat the toes and feet off a chicken that is standing on the floor of a coop.

Interesting that people see these animals as cute. When one is looking at it from the side of the road, they are a very interesting beast, almost prehistoric. When you are trying to get it out of your chicken coop and it is hissing at you and baring its (rather long, actually) teeth, they become decidedly less cute.

Country Mouse said...

Interesting perspectives, thanks for adding your real-life experiences, CVF and HMH!

It says in the Wikipedia article that they were brought by immigrants from from the American east to use as food animals, probably.

I'll be sure not to get close to any - their teeth do look like they could do some damage for sure. He did look cute though.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

I have an almost insane affection for the humble opposum. Such sweet gentle creatures, with the unfortunate rat-like appearance.

Randy Emmitt said...

These guys love to raid the compost at night. We try our best to keep them out. Great fun finding one in the day time no doubt.

Alice Joyce said...

I don't think I've ever seen/encountered an opposum, even though in Chicago and here in California, my husband is always seeing them because he's always taking walks or on his bike at odd times.
Can't believe you got that photo!
Alice

lostlandscape (James) said...

Giant slow-moving rats, that's what I think of them! Rats that eat the fruit off my trees and have way too much fun in the fishpond. But I'm being too unkind. They're weeds of the animal world, and like weeds there's nothing inherently wrong with them other than they're where you don't want them...

Brad said...

Not native, but definitely common. We always had some in our backyards in Southern California growing up. And here we had a family at the Essex garden. I find the adults really ugly, but the little ones are surprisingly cute. A lot of the complaints about them are caused more by raccoons in our area. They do like fruit though. They used to eat the rinds off of lemons still on the trees in the first house I grew up in.

Bush Chick said...

Cool that you have a marsupial over there too. That just proves Aussie must have been linked in our Gondwana past. Amazing!