Saturday, May 21, 2011
Operation Opossum Rescue!
It's Wednesday and I'm in the bedroom nursing the Beast to sleep (it works for us, don't judge) for a nap in the middle of the afternoon. The Elf comes running in (which is strictly against the "rules" when babies are trying to sleep). He informs me that there is a baby opossum outside eating the food I put out for Constantine (a neighborhood cat - the litter mate of one of our rescues). Now, we're used to opossums and raccoons eating leftover cat food. But in the middle of the day? That's weird. So I think to myself that clearly there is something wrong, but that the Elf is probably exaggerating - we get smallish opossums sometimes, but not *baby* ones.
Eventually I give up on trying to get the Beast to sleep. Cynddl, our lab mutt, is whining in the hallway, the older kids are excitedly exclaiming about the opossum. I get up, instructing the Elf to watch his brother. The Imp and I venture outside. And there, next to our front door, is the tiniest opossum I've ever seen. Small enough to cup in one hand. It was obviously terrified - opening it's little mouth and making these not-growling noises at me. After trying to climb the side of the house, it crawled along the edge of the house and disappeared around the corner.
I love opossums. They are sweet, beautiful creatures. They get a bad reputation for all manner of reasons. Some can be justified. Others are just.. stereotypes and misinformation. Either way, we welcome wild animals into our yard. But we don't touch them, we don't interfere with them. However, this little guy was clearly much too young to be on his own. But I couldn't go running off after him. He was scared and I had kids to take care of.
That night, it came back. Perched on our front window ledge it seemed to be trying to cuddle up to one of our cats through the glass. The older two boys were already in bed and the youngest was working his way there. B did some quick research online and we decided it would be best to try and catch it so that we could take it to a wildlife rehabilitation center. While I nursed the Beast to sleep while sitting on the couch, B readied the cat carrier and went outside armed with some towels. Apparently, the teeny, terrified opossum just let B pick him up (in a towel, of course). Opossums are extremely docile. They look terrifying with their pointy jaws and tiny, sharp teeth. But they're so calm. We got it settled in the carrier, gave it food and water (B even fed it water from a dropper) and put it (and the Beast) to bed in our room (on the dresser where the kids can't reach).
I woke up a great many times during the night to the sound of scratching and bar rattling. In the morning we checked on it and it had wrapped itself into a teeny ball inside of an old shirt. It had eaten and defecated, so we knew it was at least relatively healthy. After the center opened, B drove to St. Francis Wildlife Association with the opossum and the Imp. The people there confirmed that it was indeed too young to be on it's own - needing at least five more weeks of care before it could really survive on it's own.
That's our opossum story. Thanks to my lovely and compassionate husband we were able to help an orphaned baby have a better chance of survival. B is an amazing person. He rescues mice from our cats, stops in the middle of streets to move turtles from the road to the grass. He let me adopt and rescue nine cats (okay, seven - two I had before I met him) and two dogs (one of which, sadly, does not live with us anymore). He generally catches bugs to move them outside rather than kill them. He helps corral birds and butterflies off of our dilapidated "screened" porch (that is *covered* in spider webs). I love this man - he is my hero.