The Possum

A cat in a garden / Katze im Grünen

Image via Wikipedia

There was a dead juvenile possum in my Nature Place a couple of days ago.  She was old enough to be away from her mom, but just barely.  A cat or something had caught her, broken her spine but declined to eat her. Since my Nature Place is in my yard, this means that we had to deal with the remains.

I’ve thought a lot about what this means in the greater context of  “nature place”. As part of our Dedicant Path, we’re supposed to observe the goings on of the natural cycle of life. Young possums falling afoul of predators is entirely natural. Predators declining to eat their meal is not. But most of the predators in our neighborhood have other, more easy to eat food available on demand. Prey becomes a toy to play with instead of a necessary item for survival.  Even our pets become trophy hunters in the world that we humans create.

There are lizards and toads and snakes in my nature place as well. One of the lizards we’ve named Stumpy because he’s currently growing back his tail after a close encounter with a trophy hunting cat.  The central feature of my nature place is a small palm tree, really more of a bush. Stumpy is King of the Palm.  The broad leaves hold him and his subjects up easily, but collapse under the weight of cats. And yet the palm might have offered concealment for a cat hunting a young possum. And so it goes. Shelter and safety for one, concealment for another, hidden doom for a third. My nature place is busy-busy, even though it’s small.

RIP little possum. If your brothers and sisters visit, I hope they fare better.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kévin Silverstag
    Apr 20, 2011 @ 18:55:06

    I hate dealing with dead possums (although not as much as I hate dealing with dead skunks!). We live in the country and have a pack of Irish Wolfhounds. One of them in particular we call The Verminator. She’s walloped possums, skunks, raccoons… you name it, she’s killed it. And yes — they’ll eat rabbits when they get them but will never eat a possum.

    We get used to it, but I agree that it can be quite sad. We did manage to save a possum back in January, however… the foolish thing crept into our yard and decided to make a bed under a juniper bush. Knowing that it would last about 1.5 seconds once Jadzia (that’s the Verminator) found it, we managed to corral it into a garbage bin and take it down into the ravine and let it loose. Score 1 for the little guy!


    • tlryder
      Apr 22, 2011 @ 09:49:48

      I grew up in a very remote area, so I’m not particularly squeamish about animal corpses. It was a great illustration of how even in the middle of a city, nature goes on. Most cities have more “wildlife” in them than the human inhabitants ever imagine.

      For a while, I was wondering how my neighborhood could have rats (port cities always have rats) when we have approximately 6 cats per acre here. Then one evening we were sitting on the back patio and I saw the silhouettes of the rats on the power, cable and phone lines. Elevated, cat safe, rat super highway! In the daytime, the squirrels use it but at night the rats rule. 🙂


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