We’ve all dealt with vermin in our home. Doesn’t matter if it’s mice, roaches, ants, flies, etc. Whatever finds its way into our house, we are determined for them to leave only one way, dead. Once while my parents were living in Boyd, they were infested with possums.
I was there visiting one weekend. It was a Friday night and I was sitting on the floor watching television with them. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. As I turned my head towards the movement I saw what I thought was a mouse running away from the living room. I yelled, “MOUSE!!!” My dad jumped up and we looked, but of course we could not find it. We sat back down and in just a few minutes I saw movement again. I slowly turned my head towards the movement and saw a “rat” sitting calmly against the wall. Apparently he wanted to watch television as well. Because that’s exactly what it appeared that he was doing.
“Pssst Pssst Pssst” I finally got my dad’s attention and he looked in the direction that I was looking and said “Well I’ll be damned!! That’s no mouse that’s a possum.” Of course by this time the possum had taken off again. We were lucky this time and my dad cornered it in the hot water heater closet. He put it in a cage outside. My dad said, “It’s a baby possum. There is probably another one. They only have babies in even numbers” Now where he got this information, I’m not sure. But my mother and I were not happy to hear it. One possum in the house is bad enough, but the thought that there could be more didn’t make for a very restful night.
Off to bed we went. I found myself to be a little jumpy. After a couple of hours we had all fallen asleep. That’s when I was awoken by my mother screaming, “Something just ran across my legs!!!!” We were up and the possum was taken alive. The baby possum was taken hissing and wiggling to a cage outside with his sibling. Just like an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies” my dad said, “That will make some mighty fine eating once he is fattened up.” Yucko!! I know he said this just to gross me out, but I know for a fact that he had eaten possum before.
Now it’s Saturday afternoon and I’m still a little jumpy. But the nights misadventure is starting to recede in my mind. Dad says they have babies in even number and we caught two, so all’s well that ends well. So I’m in the kitchen doing something and I open a drawer to get something. There just laying in the drawer likes it’s dead is another baby possum!! I scream and slammed the drawer shut. My dad opened the drawer the possum was still there, but was no longer playing possum. He joined his other 2 sibling in the cage outside.
“I can’t take this!!”, I said. So I just hopped in my car and went back to my possum free apartment in Fort Worth. Before it was over they caught 6 baby possums. There was a room that opened off of the kitchen that was not used. My dad thought that maybe the mama possum got into that room somehow, left her babies there, and something happened to her. It’s a mystery. The good news is my dad did not eat these possums. He did feed them. He told me that they all died, but I have a feeling that he might have set them free once they were bigger. I’m not sure.
I know possums are marsupials (they carry their young in a pouch). These young possums were probably too big to be carried around in her pouch, but they may have been still clinging to her back.
After remembering this story, I went to the internet to see if possum do have their young in even numbers. I’m sorry to say, my dad was wrong. I found the following:
A female opossum can give birth to up to 25 young at a time, but as the female only has 13 teats, only the first 13 babies to make it into the pouch will survive. I found the information here. This website also had this information: Wildlife rescue groups recommend that anyone who finds a dead female opossum immediately check her pouch. Often the young will have survived the event that killed the mother. Anyone who does find surviving young should remove them from the pouch, keep them warm, and call the nearest wildlife rehabilitation center. If there is no rehabilitation center in the area, a vet, a zoo, or even a local animal shelter may be able to help
I don’t know about you, but I won’t be checking any possum’s pouch. Sorry.