Monday, February 23, 2009

Welcome to Possum Holler



Our golden retriever, Lilly, has been restless and pacing around more than usual lately. She always wants to go out and is very slow in doing her business because she is too busy sniffing around the yard. Her behavior has been quite annoying, especially when it's freezing and we stand there with the door open trying to coax her back inside. A few nights ago we discovered the reason, and it isn't rabbits as I had assumed.



No, it's a possum!

I've been leaving peanuts for the blue jays in this and I guess he has been coming for the last several nights and eating the leftovers. I tried to get pictures Friday night, but it was too dark. Tonight I changed the patio light bulb to a higher wattage bulb and preset my camera to the night mode and practiced taking a few shots beforehand. Every few minutes I looked outside to see if he was there. Sure enough, he came back tonight.

Last night, before I got home from work, my husband tried to run him off and he hissed very loudly at him. I can't imagine what it would do if Lilly got too close. I think Lilly would probably tuck her tail and run if she actually got hissed at. The thought of an encounter makes me very uncomfortable.

I don't think I had ever seen a possum that was actually alive, and I knew very little about them. Concerned for our safety and Lilly's, I did some research to find out about these strange, ugly creatures.

They are North America's only marsupial. Thankfully they are loners, so hopefully there isn't a little family out there too. They will play dead when threatened and are usually harmless even though they hiss and growl.



They are nocturnal. They are not usually carriers of rabies, (I was very glad to find this out). They are actually beneficial because they eat insects and bugs. I think they will pretty much eat anything they can find, including birdseed, cracked corn and peanuts.

Since he is now making regular nightly trips to the bird feeders, I guess I need to remove them. He may be harmless, but I really don't like having him around. Anyway, I much prefer Robin's Nesting Place to Possum Holler.

35 comments:

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Wow Robin, exciting stuff goin' on over there at Possom Holler! It's too bad you'll need to take down your feeders...are any of them up on a pole with a baffle on it? Maybe it wouldn't be able to get to those. I can see not putting peanuts out in low areas and such...things like that do attract those possums!! Last summer I placed fruit out for the birds and had the very same thing happen. It was actually up on my deck, close to the house. When we opened the back door to let out our dog, James. He acted kind of strange on the way out but kept going...then we saw the possum right there on our table. It was just staring at us. We got our dog back in finally and then took a bunch of photos, like you did. I don't think I had my good camera yet...I'm not even sure where the photos are. But his beady little eyes really made my skin crawl. I took the food off the deck and he never came back...and I have lots of feeders, even right off the deck. Perhaps after a few days you could try putting some feeders back out but just don't put anything close to the ground. Good luck!! And, I'm glad you still reside in Robin's Nesting Place--it has a much better ring to it:)

flowergardengirl said...

He looks angry even when he's not hissing. I even wondered how you got such good pictures. I'm glad your little slow potty going Lily is not in harm's way.

Donna said...

Call me crazy, Robin, but I think he's cute (even though he is a little meaner looking than the pics of our possum that I posted on January 12th!!)... I wouldn't want to mess with them, but I do like to admire them from behind the sliding glass door! I did the same as you, researched info on-line... You may not have him for too long. According to what I read, possums are transients and only stay in the same vicinity for a few days before moving on... Of course ours have stayed around much longer, probably because I also put out bird seed, peanuts, and such for the birds and squirrels. But my gosh, you got excellent photos! Great job!... Donna @ An Enchanted Cottage

Laurie said...

Great shots Robin, they are common in our area, and as stated pretty harmless. When we had animals at our feeders, we put out "Critter Feed" away from the feeders, so not to discourage other wildlife from coming in the yard. Others come and go, but the birds get to keep their feed and we can enjoy the other animals that come to eat. Though not the most pleasant looking, I think he's cute in a wierd sort of way!

Tatyana said...

Robin, great shots and interesting story! I also can relate to the part about standing outside in the cold and darkness waiting for a dog...

Janet said...

Good morning Robin, a number o fyears ago we had a possum family in the culvert under the end of our driveway. We were very glad when they didn't return the following year. I know there are possum around -- but don't need them in the yard and up close to the house.
Janet

Patricia said...

Ewwwwww! He might be harmless, but he sure does look sinister in his eyes! I made a feeder out of an old ceramic planter and placed it just outside the fenced yard for those critters I don't want to mess with my bird feeders. So far, that seems to have worked. If I were you, I might also take my feeders down for a day or two to encourage a possum to go elsewhere first.

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

You got some great photos of that opossum! They are so ugly. At a previous house (in the middle of the woods far from anything) I had a screened porch with a cat door. The opossums and raccoons came in through the cat door to eat the cat food. There were many nights that I was startled when I opened the door to let my cat in for the evening and there would be one of these ugly things!

Cameron

GardenJoy4Me said...

Robin .. You captured amazing pictures of this guy/gal .. they are the strangest things I have ever seen ! I don't think we have any in Canada but I'm not totally sure about our most southern areas.
I would be backing away from one of these characters pretty darn fast myself ! LOL

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Possum Holler sounds cute,but I think Robin's Nest is much,much better.Love the Rose Bud Welcome.
Blessings,Ruth

Cathy said...

Those little varments use to come
into our yard and fight with my
Dogs and this was in Chicago!

cindee said...

Those are great pictures of that little critter. I don't care for them either. They look like a large rat! If you put away the snacks he will probably move to a neighbors house(-: Or he might just knock on your door!

Kerri said...

Good morning Robin!
You've captured some great shots of this not very attractive little critter. We see them quite often, especially under the feeders on summer nights. I shoo them off and they amble slowly away.
They can be vicious to other animals, and have been known to go into our barn and kill kittens.
If you Googled Australian possums (they're called ring-tailed), you'd find that they're cute as can be, with big eyes, big ears and a much shorter nose. When I was younger and living at home, we rescued a young one who fell down the chimney into a friend's house. It lived in our downstairs laundry with access to the back yard until it grew up and raised its own family.

Jan said...

I have them, too. They live next door under the neighbor's shed. I hate to mention this, but you probably do have a family nearby. We had to use a humane trap and relocate several last summer when there seemed to be too many. Now, if I could just get rid of the armadillo that is tearing up the place, I'd be happy with just the occasional raccoon showing up.

Jan
Always Growing

Gina @ Six in the Country said...

What a surprise that must have been! Growing up on a farm, I learned to dislike possums early, since they have been known to kill chickens or eat their eggs. My granddaddy would say some "choice words" when he found evidence of them in the barn. Your photos almost make him look cute, though! Hopefully your visitor will not outstay his welcome.

Barbarapc said...

Lots of good shots. Great idea to put a stronger light in to capture the little bandit. The vets in our area say that they are some of the worst carriers of fleas. The ones here are white - very surprised to see them on this side of Lake Ontario. Something quite rat-like with that tail.

Sherri said...

We are having the same problem getting Teddy, our Golden back in the house and it is due to 2 possums in our yard! They are strange, ugly little creatures and I really try to avoid them at all costs. They do hiss alot and sometimes bare their teeth. Good luck with yours!

Connie said...

Thanks for sharing these photos.I've never seen one up close and personal before, and BTW...that is just fine with me! :-)

Dirt Princess said...

We hace possums everywhere here...we get them in our yard quite frequently, as well as racoons. They will play dead as soon as you try to run them off. Spray him with the water house. That usually will run them off, I have done that a few times and I haven't seen them come around much. If you bother them while they are out there...they will usually get fed up and move on...probably to the neighbors!

Benjamin Vogt said...

We had one a month or so ago and she only stayed a week or two--which is what they do, apparently, particularly in late winter when they are pumping out young ones. That's what I read, and like you, my research did make me realize they aren't so bad, and I was happy to have diversity in the yard, even if they are scavengers. It's the squirrels I could do without.

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Wow, caught in the act. Our dog does the same thing some nights, I usually suspect a raccoon because we have pond. I wonder if we've had possums before, I do know they live around here.

Gail said...

Robin, They are really odd but I do think of them as harmless, shuffling about critters. They are amusing. One climbed all the way up the french drain into the downspout last year! They are not smart~~ I freed it but did have to repair the downspout! gail

Msrobin said...

I think I'd be a little creeped out to see a Possum so close up. Harmless or not, I wouldn't want him visiting my garden!

Tricia Anne said...

What interesting information about your recent "guest". And poor Lilly to have been bothered by him.
Your photographs are beautiful! I am looking forward to sharing them with my family. :o)
Also, your Libby looks a lot like my Thomas! :o) Is she very lovable? Thomas is all about snuggles and as much attention as you can give! :o)
Sincerely ~ Tricia Anne

Pam/Digging said...

Opossums are indeed ugly, but I like their cute, human-like hands.

I know exactly what happens when dog meets possum--and it sounds like a cat-fight! I used to have a wire fox terrier, and she once cornered a possum under a corner of our shed. It hissed like a angry cobra while she darted toward it, snapping eagerly, the little minx. At one point she got a bite on the nose, yelped and jumped back, and then (terrier all the way) wagged her tail and leaped back into the fray. Ultimately I got my hand on her collar and dragged her into the house, and the possum made its getaway. The dog's nose was fine. She loved the hunt.

Frances said...

Hi Robin, Oh my, he is scary looking. I have heard they are good for gardens, but would have trouble encouraging them to hang around. I agree, Robin's Nesting Place is way better! :-)
Frances

Kylee said...

I can barely look at that last photo, Robin! I detest possums!! I took a photo of one we came quite close to a few weeks ago while taking a walk down our road. We see them on a fairly regular basis. They are ugly, ugly, ugly!
Great shots of it you got though. I guess. LOL

Balisha said...

I went out to make sure the water was shut off.Our hose is on a reel and I had to reach behind to check it. It was dark and I heard a loud hiss and promptly left the area. I stood on the porch and watched...it was a possum.He just moseyed down the sidewalk. I haven't done that since.

Randy Emmitt said...

We get them once in a while, When we were feeding the cats outside, a few times we saw two cats and a possum eating our of the same bowl.

NCmountainwoman said...

Way to go Lilly! I loved the pictures, but I'm with you...I'd rather not have them hanging around every night.

Gardeness said...

One of our dogs cornered a young possum a couple years ago. I felt sorry for the poor thing, but didn't want the pooch hurt either. All kinds of wildlife going on in your area!

garden girl said...

I think they're kind of cute! But then, I like raccoons too, so don't listen to me.

I can understand your concern about a confrontation between the possum and Lilly. Our dog George had a confrontation with a possum several years ago and it scared all three of us!

They just stood there within inches of each other, and the possum stood his ground baring his teeth and hissing his fool head off until George finally backed off. I was holding my breath the whole time. I was really afraid that possum was going to attack, or fight back and injure George if he'd decided to go after the possum. It was scary, but once George backed of, the possum turned around and lumbered off, thankfully. I do think they're cute and pretty harmless, and wouldn't care if one hung around here if I didn't have a pet.

RainGardener said...

Hi Robin,
He is really a creepy thang.
My little teenie weenie dog kept barking one night and I finally went over and pulled the corner of the curtain at the deck doors and here was one just right up close and personal staring at me. I just shook it was so freaky. Thank goodness I've never seen one since.
Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous. I can only hope to get that good - but I sure love taking them of all the critters around here and of my flowers. Linda

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

Blotanical is down today, but I assume you are the ROBIN who is having a birthday today!

Happy Birthday!

Cameron

Re's Aussie Garden said...

Hi Robyn, I've just begun following your blog - love your photography, very jealous! Your poor possum really isn't too handsome!! Nothing like the possums in Australia, which are sooo cute but still get up to mischief.
Maybe hunger makes him mean and desperate??
Re.