Tuesday, November 25, 2008

She came back!

I walked into the coop last night, glanced behind the feed bins and saw a familiar grey furry body. And I had my camera in my pocket! Here she is laying on a few old feed sacks.

Her presence poses some problems, however. The big human-sized coop door was closed all day yesterday. That means she: a) came through the smaller chicken-sized door, or b) found another way in. If she used the chicken door, then she's smarter than she looks, and has learned to traverse the gate leading into the fenced run connected to the coop. If she's learned that, then keeping her out of the coop will be challenging. Maybe a few days keeping the chickens locked in the coop, with all doors closed, will convince her to find other feeding grounds.

If she's found another way into the coop, then I just need to find out where she's getting in, and seal it off with some mortar mix. Pesty, but not impossible. But I can't imagine where the hole would be. We've got that place pretty well sealed. And an opossum is not a slim critter. Unlike the mink who visited our coop a few years ago, who managed to slip through a hole the size of a ping-pong ball.

My husband suggested we use our BB gun. No way! Opossums, despite their bad rep, are more of a help than a hindrance. They eat a lot of bugs and mice. They usually don't live in groups, so this one is probably alone out here in our grove.

I've learned a few other things about opossums since yesterday. I'm guessing the opossum I found in our coop is female, since I've read that males will growl when they are threatened. Their gestation period is 13 days, after which they give birth to many tiny babies that find their way into mom's pouch and start feeding immediately. Three months after birth the babies leave the pouch and head off on their own.

They have thumbs on their back feet and their tails are prehensile, but they don't hang upside-down from branches like in the cartoons. They have more teeth than any other land mammal. Opossums are the only mammal from the Cretaceous period (the height of the dinosaur age) still surviving today. How cool is that!

As long as she stays in the woods, Ms. Opossum is welcome to our farm. Now, if I start discovering broken egg shells in our hens' nests, that's another story. Then it's time to borrow a live trap and introduce Ms. Opossum to our lovely local state park.


kathy said...

Awwww, she's so cute! Don't hurt her! Remind me to kick Simon for the BB gun suggestion.

Jo said...

Will do!

Karen said...

What an absolute cutie! Much cuter than the one in Mom and Dad's garage last year!! That one was butt-ugly, plus he ate the pan of brownies!!

Jo said...

Ha! Maybe we should bait the live trap with brownies. Hubby hasn't set the trap yet, since we haven't seen Mrs. O since Sunday.