I've been doing my best to monitor our visiting Virginia Opossum. He's looking a little rough these days, probably suffering from some frost bite about those exposed parts of his body, meaning the ears, toes, tail and nose that lack fur. They are not made for our winters, especially once it really kicks in and we have countless extreme cold alerts. I try to tell people to go stand out there some frigid night in their bare feet and see how long they last. Now, whatever duration they can stand it, multiply that by 24/7. An Opossum does not have a heated house to go into.
A cropped close up of his nose and toes. Too hard to tell because of the poor lighting and the dark raw pink could actually be camera manipulation with the settings.
But here, it is evident he's got some frost bite on that tail of his.
I've sent pictures to a couple rehab places, and a short video. Nothing screams he needs help with his mobility. And really, 'Possums are peculiar looking creatures to begin with, and their movement is just as strange looking.
So I do my best to keep an eye out for him and just watch him as he gets around. Here he is March 24th, enjoying an apple core. I watched him devour that in less than a minute!
He's not a happy guy in the last week as suddenly the local Raccoons are really starting to come to life once again. The 'Possum is terrified of them. I've seen him come in close vicinity of a Raccoon or two, and once his eyes focus on the big hairy beasts, he pretty much runs for his life and doesn't stop till he's well out of the backyard. It's all about survival of the fittest, the biggest, the hungriest, the one with the bigger attitude. The Opossum is no match for the Raccoons.
And speaking of Raccoons, I took notice to a couple Friday night and they took notice to me as well. I saw the glowing eyes peeking out from under the shed with my flashlight and in seconds they came running out, one right up to me. No doubt these 2 are the crazy kids of last summer.
First sight of these 2 on June 8th 2014.
July 1st. They sure grow fast!
There was 4 actually, and these 2 paired up, being the bolder ones of the bunch. They left the comforts and protection of mom earlier than I've ever seen young Raccoons do. Many evenings last summer did I find myself accompanied by them, and one of them being THE boldest I've ever encountered. I can't call him "brave" because he's young and inexperienced. He doesn't deserve to be called "stupid" because he doesn't know any better.
Yes, quite a character he is. Day time.
And at night. A little photo shopping and this could have him saying "Fly you fools!" like Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. Heh heh heh!
Now what do I do with such a situation? I know not everyone out there is appreciative or even tolerant of these mischievous creatures.
One of the neighbours beat on these little guys one Saturday afternoon, knocking them out of her tree with a long tomato stake. Poor things. It was raining baby Raccoons. Of course this caused some outrage from our yard, and Angie voiced her disapproval to this woman's actions. What happens in the next week or so? She starts feeding them. Leaving plates of spaghetti and veal out for them nightly! Talk about extremes! Her daughter, an animal lover, had a huge influence on this. So no wonder this guy started coming around and sitting in the deck chair next to me. I normally fill the bird feeders after dark, so they are ready for the morning crew. The one I am speaking of took delight in my evening feeder filling, seeing this as an opportunity to fill his belly too. What, not enough spaghetti from a couple doors over? If I left any seed bag, especially peanuts, he was on it.
With me working an afternoon shift, getting home after 10 at night, having the night life about the back is great. I don't turn on the television. I'd much rather sit out back for an hour and watch our personal nature channel. When they come around, it's not always about relaxing especially with one overly curious rambunctious soul like him. His peanut addiction soon followed with a want for my Tap 357 maple whiskey. I could have Crown Royal maple and he showed no interest. I have a glass of Tap and he's trying to take the glass from me. Even a now empty glass has him seeking it out. The aroma drove him crazy!
Even without a bag of peanuts or seed in sight, he still hung out (the other was always nearby but not close like him). Many nights just sitting in the deck chair, washing away. I felt bad for this guy because I remember how bad he stunk of Skunk. The initial days he tried so hard to get the smell off him. It wore off over time, but even weeks later, there was a faint odor about him. Once again, that overly curious nature of him got the best of him as he tried to befriend a Skunk in his travels.
They would groom. They would play, be it chasing each other and wrestling, or toying with some of the funny things they found in our backyard like the garden hose nozzle and some of the lawn ornaments.
Wrestlemania in August, they played hard under this Bluebird garden flag, often reaching to it like a kitten under a curtain. Nice to witness them doing this instead of just waking up and seeing the wreckage. Like I say, "who needs television?" As they got bigger, the flag shredded, the pole bent. We accept that things don't last outside, and some things ya just got take in or else they will be destroyed.
We threw some dog toys out there and they had a blast with those. Nothing lasted long with these guys. We would just leave things about the yard for them to discover and have at. The mini soccer ball did not stand a chance. Sorry no photos. We missed the rip fest, just saw the remains of that ball.
They all love the bird baths and bath basins. Water is so much harder to come by than food. Raccoons like to wash their hands too. The little ones love to play in the water.
Even the adults find comfort hanging around our backyard.
So, with the way these 2 acted on Friday night, as I said, no doubt it's the kids. The last I saw of them was around mid-October of last year. I figured everyone moved on, searching out their own territories and places to sleep. I did not expect to see these guys again. If it weren't for their actions, I probably wouldn't have identified them. How long do siblings hang out together? Something I should try and read up on.
It's great to see the little bums again. I can only imagine what kind of shenanigans we are in for as the weather warms and we see them more often.
From Sunday night.
Since the cold snap the last couple days, no sign of them again.
It's hard to ignore them. I won't chase them. We will co-exist. I don't mind them coming here for water and cleaning up under the feeders. If buddy wants to sit in the chair next to me and wash his belly, so be it, but no matter how cute he looks, he cannot have my Tap whiskey. Last summer I told him he was too young to drink. LoL!
We work hard at Raccoon proofing our home. They used to have access up to the roof due to the old tv tower, and found a spot to empty their bowels (this was years ago). The tv tower came down and no more getting up there to poop. But recently I was cleaning ice out of the back gutter, left the ladder up against the house, and next thing I know Raccoons are climbing up there to do their business once again. Now these aren't the same Raccoons from 5+ years ago but I guess there is a mark up there, they can smell it, and it tells them this is where you can "go". Sure, why not? Up on a roof top, out of sight, and undisturbed. Who doesn't want quiet time when going #2? I feel their plight but sorry, not happening. We do our best to keep them out of the garbage and recycle bins too but sometimes they get in anyway and sights like this are more frequent in the summer.
Always check your bins. One night we had one stuck in each of the bins. They were too small to climb out. We've had a big one get stuck too, and he just slept at the bottom until I discovered him and let him go. As always, keep your cool. Freaking out will only get them freaked out. I keep one hand on the bin lid, and slowly tip the bin over. Once the bin is on it's side, I open the lid and just walk away. It takes no time for them to get out and run off far far away from that trap. Sometimes this is enough for them to learn never to do that again.
I hope you enjoyed my pics, stories and thoughts on these visitors. And how we deal with them.
Like it or not, this planet, it's their home too. They have every right to be here, just like us.