Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Mr. O'Prahssum

I get it. I mean, if I stared in our windows and saw how Pippin lives in the lap of pet luxury I'd want to live here, too. All the toys, treats, beds and endless couches to lounge on. The sheer amount of attention and love he gets. But really, it's about time for the wildlife to leave us alone. And it started waaay before Pippin's time. Our first invader was a skunk, circa 2001. We were having a dinner party with some of my coworkers and for some hair brained reason I decided to leave the garage door up so they could see my car and know they were at the right house. That sounds like an incredibly dumb idea now - as if I thought a group of professional accountants and CPAs can't read clearly illuminated house numbers??? I forgot about the garage door until they were leaving that night so it had been open several hours in the dark. As Brent left for work the following morning he came foot to face with a little skunk - who had spent all night amusing himself by opening bags of potting soil and rolling around in it, knocking things over and just generally having a good old time. Clearly freaked we spent a long time figuring out what to do since our cars were held hostage with the little guy peeking out at us from under my gardening center. We made mad dashes to our cars and left the garage door cracked, certain he would leave once we did. Not so much. We got home and saw him curled up asleep, still under my gardening center. One neighbor wanted us to call animal control, one wanted us to let their dog try to chase it out, one was convinced it had rabies and needed to be killed. Basically all of them wanted to have it removed by force and we were pretty sure how THAT would turn out - not good for us!! Ultimately we left the door cracked and once it was dark again the little guy left on his own, we were just an accidental one night stand. While we lived there we had run-ins with squirrels who liked to eat our deck and shingles (they met a friend's bb gun and never came back....) and then there was the Infamous Bird Incident.

And now, we have a new pet possum. He's made an appearance already - and since then we've not seen him but think we know where he likes to live - under our deck. In cleaning the yard out a few weeks ago we found a spot where he's dug out under some bricks underneath our deck. The last TWO mornings in a row he and Pippin have played tag in our yard. That's not working for me. Since the sun comes up so much later Mr O is coming in from a night of partying just as Pippin is going out for a morning of pooping. Not good. Yesterday we put some things up to block where we know he's getting in, and sure enough when Pippin was in chase this morning the bugger quickly dug a new hole to get back in. It was time to do some research on how to relocate a possum. And for your amusement, here is what I have found from this website (along with my comments).

Problem: There is an opossum in my yard. What do I do?

Answer: Nothing. Leave it alone. If it is injured or orphaned then read the Found an Orphaned or Injured Opossum? section. Otherwise, enjoy watching wildlife in your own backyard! Opossums are beneficial: eating the harmful, unwanted pests around your home such as snails, slugs, spiders, cockroaches, rats, mice and snakes. Think of the opossum as your free gardener. The opossum is known as “Nature’s Little Sanitation Engineer” for a good reason!

WTH??? Nothing??? Free Gardener??? Where the hell was this rat when I was (and still am) having to water my flowers and garden every freaking day in the hottest summer EVER???? Free gardener, my ass. More like freeloader. Sanitation Engineer???? Good lord.

Problem: They make my dog bark!
Solution: A dog will bark at anything it sees or hears. The best thing you can do for the opossums AND your neighbors is to train the dog or keep the dog indoors at night. This will also prevent the dog from injuring or killing an opossum.

Good luck. You try training Pippin not to bark at a possum. He is a DOG. And he does not bark at ANYTHING. He barks at things that are weird - like this freeloading gardener.

Question: There is an opossum in my attic or under my house or deck. What do I do?

Answer: (After providing the common sense answer of 'wait until the bugger is out partying then seal up the hole they offer this nugget:) You must keep up your house in its originally pest-proof state. Not doing so will provide (or maybe is already providing) other animals to seek refuge including: skunks, raccoons, mice, rats. If your home is so old that it was never built to exclude animals, contact your local pest control for them to come out and "pest-proof" your home by exclusionary methods. Most pest control companies will humanely trap and release large mammals from your property also. Ask them what they do with the animals before you enlist their services.

I wonder if they would say our 1880's house was built before "pest proofing".....

Question: How do I trap and relocate an opossum?

Answer: Do not trap! Opossums are normally transient animals, staying only 2-3 days in an area before moving on. Removal is neither necessary nor desirable. If opossums were eliminated from an area, the population of roof rats and other pests would proliferate. Opossums serve an important role by controlling the unwanted, harmful pest population around our neighborhoods. So now we should ask you a question. After learning about the benefits opossums provide, why would you want to trap and remove an opossum?

OMG, are these people on crack. I want to remove the possum because he is DIGGING IN MY YARD and MAKING MY DOG BARK EVERY DAY. Roof rats??? You've got to be kidding. And he's been here ALL SUMMER!

And now, for my personal two favorites:

Question: My dog kills opossums. What can I do?

Answer: Keep the dog indoors at night. This way the dog will not be able to injure or kill the opossums. Take the dog outside on a leash to do his “business”. If not possible to keep the dog indoors, then confine the dog to the garage or a run from dusk to dawn. If again not possible, then place a few large PVC pipes (8 inch diameter, 5-6 feet in length) in the yard. This will provide the opossum with a place to escape, should an attack occur. Remove pet food and other attractants from your yard to encourage opossums to move on.

Why stop at PVC mazes??? Let's just build him a tiny little possum palace with a flat screen TV and a Nintendo Wii. I'll throw an extra steak on the grill for him, too. I mean, he is my gardener and all.

Question: I see an opossum sharing a food dish with my cat. Is this normal?

Answer: Opossums are very opportunistic animals. If food is available, they will eat. We receive numerous pictures of opossums sharing a bowl of cat food with an outdoor cat. Adult cats and opossums seem to tolerate each other. Feeding wildlife is not recommended.

Well, who didn't know this??? I absolutely LOVE my cute little "Friends of the Possum" wall calendar. I was thinking about getting a cat JUST so I can enjoy this beautiful sight myself.

So obviously we won't be following any of these tips. This little guy is going to be moving on, either of his own free will or we might just need to let one of our neighbors know the whereabouts of this yummy animal. Possum stew anyone????

So yeah, nothing about working out today. But personally I find possum tales more interesting than any stories from last night's swim class or the 2 runs I've had this week. With all the moving Chicago reports out there my workout tales would be dull tidings. And make sure you check Jeanne out - she ran the Army 10 miler last weekend - that also ran out of water. What's the deal people???? Exactly what do our race fees provide these days??

Happy tidings!!



At 7:31 PM, Blogger Firefly's Running said...

I LOVE your post. I hope the possum situation clears up and does not drive Pippen NUTS!

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Running Jayhawk said...

I think it's time to break out the gun. Nothing a few caps can't handle...right? ;)

...oh, and we'll need photos again. The pictures from the bird incident still make me laugh hysterically.

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want an Opossum of my very own!

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said opposum's stay for only a few days. Not so, I have had a female give birth in my back yard, raise her two pups, and now she is pregnant again. I'm all for living with nature, but this is too much. I have to tread around the poop in my garden. Its become a wild kingdom, with the animals in charge.


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