Monday, January 7, 2008

Not to Neglect the Lowly: Possum on Woodley St.

I was driving east on Woodley a little before 7:00 this morning, and saw an opossum scurrying compactly across the street -- quite near where I saw a fox do the same some months ago. I usually only see them dead on the highway, and that not often, so this was rather a treat (in a humble sort of way).

They're not viewed as lovely animals by most, but if you look at their faces rather than their tails, they do have a certain sweet charm. And they are North America's only marsupials, which is rather interesting and should garner them at least a little respect.

The Opossum Society of the United States advocates for greater understanding of these misunderstood beings, noting that increased development of formerly rural land infringes upon possum habitat and pushes them into greater contact with humans. Reasons to tolerate them include this nice little piece of advocacy from the OSUS:
Whether rural, residential or in the wilderness, opossums are a benefit to any area they inhabit. Their diet includes all types of bugs and insects including cockroaches, crickets and beetles. They love snails. They also eat mice and rats. The nocturnal opossum is attracted to our neighborhoods by the availability of water, pet food left out at night and overripe, rotting fruit that has fallen from trees. The opossum in turn helps keep our neighborhoods clean and free of unwanted, harmful garden pests and rodents, which may carry diseases. The opossum has earned the title of "Nature's Little Sanitation Engineer."
Remember that, next time you see one flattened on the highway, and mourn just a little.


Mary S. said...

Penny: I'm not sure if it is the same one, but I have seen an opossum in the vicinity of Woodley and Prairie Streets several times. It's a little startling at first because to the untrained eye they look like the world's largest rat. I haven't seen one since fall and assumed they hibernated, but maybe not.


Anonymous said...

I have lived in my home in Mendota heights for over 20 years and never seen a possum b4 tonight. A big fat one was witing for my on my stoop when I came home. It startled me and I yelped but realized that this creature with the sad face meant me no harm so I just went around him and on in. It stayed on my stoop for the longest time - heaven only knows why - then went back to digging out berries from under the snow in my yard.

Unknown said...

Wow, that would startle me, too. How nice that you reacted so thoughtfully. I think it's fascinating to know that there are creatures like this carrying on their hidden lives in the environment we think of as ours.