There was a huge rainstorm, fast and furious, on Saturday and as per usual our basement flooded. JB and I have a routine. After the water goes back down the drain, we mop and rinse the basement floor, followed by a bit of bleach. Though it’s a hassle, it does keep the basement floor clean.
After we cleaned up, JB was doing the laundry in the basement and mistakenly grabbed what he thought was a small pile of leaf detritus we had somehow missed. Swearing loudly, he realized it was a fresh animal dropping. “Great, now we have an animal living in our basement.”
I went to call someone professional to help us find what was probably an opossum. We’ve seen several in the yard, and even found a mother and babies sleeping in our compost one year.
With company names like—Smithereen, Terminix, Nevernest, Conquest, Dead on Arrival, Bounty Hunters, Pest Enders, Rentokil, Quik-Kill, Zap it, and Nuisance Wildlife, I wasn’t sure I would be able to find a company that would trap the poor thing and just set it free. Then I saw a company name with the word “Humane” in it. I called them. It was the closest to my own sentiments I could get.
BN from “Humane” came by and we looked for any possible opossum entrances into the house. We could not locate any for certain, searching carefully in the basement as well as outside the house, but there were a few “possumbilities.” We do have a space behind “Dorothy Doors” into the backyard, and know that sometimes animals can get in there. However there is no possible way the opossum could get into the basement through there, right? (Well, obviously, where there’s a will there’s a way…). We also set up an indicator* near a hole on the side of the “Dorothy Doors” to see if an animal was going in or out.
So BN put a trap down in our basement, baited with liverwurst and animal smell. We are to check it by 8:00 each morning. If there is an animal in it we are to call and BN will come out and take the animal and trap. Though they do let most animals free there are a few that they have to euthanize because of the threat of rabies, like bats and raccoons. After three days if there is no animal in our basement, the trap will be reset next to the “Dorothy Doors,” if the indicator suggests there is an animal living under them.
All of this got me to wondering about the possum. Of course, possums are famous for playing dead when threatened, actually falling into a rigid catatonic state –with mouth agape and drooling, emitting putrid smells (like death) — which can last from a minute to 6 hours. They are the only marsupial in America (ie the females have a pocket, like a kangaroo, to nurse their young) and they have opposable thumbs, like humans, on their rear feet. They apparently are also very clean animals, cleaning themselves meticulously like cats. Their immune systems are pretty incredible being practically immune to rabies and to the venom from snakes. They are nocturnal animals so are rarely seen during the daylight hours. OK, this is strangely fascinating (and why I love Wikipedia): The female opossum has a forked vagina leading to two separate wombs and the male has a bifurcated penis— (I know what you’re thinking). This has given me a whole new perspective on what the word wildlife means.
In latin, the word possum means “I am able” or “I can.” It has been two days and so far no animal in the trap. I guess, this animal is possum elude you.
*Indicators are blocks to holes or in the possible paths of animals, like bricks and boards, strips of plastic. If the bricks, boards, or plastic have been moved or disturbed, an animal is probably the perpetrator.