Possibly more ‘possum

March 19, 2012

More shots of our rather tame, wild neighbor.

Possum on the fence in Dallas IMGP8930 - Ed Darrell photo, creative commons

S/he may have been trying to reach the safety of the area under the heat pump -- but the dogs caught on, and "treed" it on the fence. I worried about rabies, but it seemed healthy.

I’m torn, really — are they cute, or really ugly?

Possum in Dallas IMGP8937 - Ed Darrell photo, creative commons

Walt Kelly would have been pleased at its familiarity with the idea of a mugwump, as it demonstrates, here.

A possum's tail IMGP8935 - Ed Darrell photo, creative commons

The hairless, "rat" tail is one of the least attractive features. How much cuter would it be with a furry tail?

Possum on the fence - IMGP8933 Ed Darrell photo, creative commons

He does have a very cute, pink nose, however. You could get used to dealing with these little guys.


Playing with the ‘possum in the backyard

March 17, 2012

No, not “playing possum.”  Playing WITH the ‘possum.

The mostly-dachsund harasses any animal that may wish to take up residence under our shed — or, in some cases, under the heat pump.  The animals usually stick around for a while, though, because there is so much good stuff to dig up there.  For our part, we don’t mind when they dig up and dispose of the grubs, most of the time.

But these creatures — a possum, a raccoon a couple of years ago, armadilloes from time to time, or even rats (before Smokey the cat took them out, one by one) — eventually wander off, mostly unseen by us because they’re nocturnal.

Yesterday morning both dogs went nuts, and when I looked out, I realized they had something treed.  Between the mostly-dachsund and the border setter, they average out to a couple of beagles, and they can tree something if they want to.  Can’t get it, but they can tree it.

Possum on the fence IMGP2893 (2) photo by Ed Darrell creative commons copyright

It's an election year, so why shouldn't one of Pogo's cousins be on the fence?

It’s probably the same one I saw a few weeks ago when taking coffee grounds to the compost pile (maybe the caffeine is keeping this guy up days, eh?).  Kenny caught him crossing the alley late one night, in the headlights, of course.

I brought the dogs in, and turned them out an hour later, thinking the guy had plenty of time to get to his daytime hiding place.

They treed him again. (Actually, that’s the second treeing, pictured above.)

Later they got him on the fence in a different part of the yard.

Possum in dallas, peeking through the photinia

Possum caught in the early morning, peeking through the Chinese photinia (not red tip). Flash photography confuses the little guys, I think.

By this time I worried that the critter might be suffering from an illness — like rabies, which tends to make nocturnal animals come out in daylight, and be mean.

But there are no other symptoms.  I was relieved this morning to find new digs from the critter.  If he, or she, is digging for food, it’s probably not rabid.

In his jaunts around the world last year Kenny mentioned how ugly possums are, to one of his friends from Britain, who immediately took issue.  Cute?

Turns out Kenny’s friend was referring to the Australian possum, which is quite cute.

Australian ring-tailed possum, photo by kookr

Australian ring-tailed possum, photo by kookr. Australia has 27 different species of possum, all of them cuter and more cuddly than their American cousins.

Ours is not an Australian import.

I hope the bob whites come back, too.  Maybe it was just the drought that discouraged them last year.

It’s been a good year for wildlife, at least those with wings.  One day last week we had a tree full of cedar waxwings, passing through.  Blue jays and white-winged doves flew around them, and into the same tree.  There were a bunch of robins out — making eight weeks of sightings of the things, which leads me to understand some sizable population is staying in the Dallas area now, instead of just migrating through as they would, formerly.  On the live oak, the yellow-belly sapsucker probed for new grubs.  And on the trunk of the red oak the waxwings gathered in, another woodpecker, wholly oblivious to the cacophony, looked for emerging insects itself.   On local roads I’ve seen a bobcat — first for Texas, for me — and a few coyotes (while cousin-in-law Amanda has video of what looks to be wolves, in California!).  We haven’t gone out to look at the snowy owl in Rockwall, but there’s a chance of adding a rarity to the life-list.

With luck, we’ll get the toads, soon.  We should do well — Kathryn’s worked hard to make the yard a refuge for wildlife.  We’re mostly organic, so there should be no poisons to accumulate in any insect-eating critters.  We feed birds, several different species, and we have water for animals in front and back yard.  The National Wildlife Federation will certify your yard as a backyard wildlife habitat.  Working to get there is most of the fun; watching the wildlife is the gravy.

Backyard wildlife study is great fun.

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