This weekend, my wife and I headed up to my parents’ house in New Jersey for a visit. During the visit, I went for a run out near where I went to high school. During the run, I saw a small, mouselike animal sitting on the sidewalk. As I got closer, I saw it was a baby possum. He didn’t seem freaked out in the least, so I let him be.
As I looped around and passed the same spot about 15 minutes later, he was still there, this time cleaning himself, but still not looking in distress. So I finished up my run and did a little research. Though PossumRescue.com is a good site, I didn’t find the answers I was looking for. I gave a call over to Cedar Run, a nearby wildlife rescue to find out what I should do. They said as long as the possum didn’t seem injured and was about 6 inches big, he could survive just fine on his own. “If he’s out in the open, though,” the woman from Cedar Run told me, “You can move him to bushes or somewhere where cats won’t find him.”
Huyen, my mom, and I headed back out to see if the possum was still around. He had moved from the sidewalk, but was working his way towards a busy road, so I decided it was best to move him. The woman I talked to suggested using either towels to carry him or just to pick him up by his tail. I opted to go for the tail. We moved him over to a patch of trees far enough from the main road that he should be safe. I was a bit concerned about moving him from where his mother might see him, but there was no sign of her or any other siblings, so I think moving the little guy/girl was the best choice.
Here’s a shot (and a few more):
Some interesting possum facts that I didn’t know, gleaned from the aforementioned Possum Rescue site:
- The opossum doesn’t have a permanent “nest” because it is nocturnal and transient. It will spend and average of 2-3 days in the same hideout, then move on. Some weeks later it may return to your place, depending on your hospitality.
- Opossums lived during the Age of the Dinosaurs.
- Besides their natural predators in the wild, humans, cars and cats are the demise for this docile creature. Very few survive to adulthood , and usually live only 1-2 years if they do.
- “Playing Possum” is one of the most effective ways the opossums defends itself. When unable to flee, extreme fear places the opossum into an involuntary coma. They become stiff and their mouths will gape open. This condition will last 40 minutes to 4 hours. Most predators will abandon their attack, once the opossum is thought to be dead. [Our possum went into this mode, too, but recovered after a few minutes.]
Apparently, this time period is a time when a lot of possums are hit by cars. Sadly, many are mothers carrying their infants, who may survive the accident. Read more about saving these infants.