Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mystery Solved

I'm an animal lover. I keep a birdfeeder, and I usually leave a pan of sunflower seeds for the neighborhood squirrels. I also occasionally leave catfood out for the numerous strays we have around here. Anyway, since we moved, the birdfeeder is up, and I set out the seed pan. (I haven't started feeding the cats here yet - I think the landlady would have a problem with it.)

A few weeks ago, I noticed something odd in the seed pan. Some critter was using it as a restroom. (I know... ew, yuck... but it wasn't really nasty scat.) So, being the curious person I am, I researched scat. (Hey, I'm a writer. You never know when you might need a good working knowledge of critter crap.) For a while I thought it was raccoon scat, but it was too... not-nasty... to be a raccoon. Too big to be rabbit or squirrel. Too full of vegetable matter to be fox or coyote (or dog or cat, for that matter).

I gave up trying, and put the seed pan away. Sure, the squirrels were mad. They'd even taking to leaving their own little presents - presumably to tell the intruding animals off - but it had to be done.

Then just now, I was outside having a smoke before bed. As I was standing there, minding my own business and trying to stay out of the snow, I saw movement. Something was creeping out from under my husband's truck. And it was making it's way toward me.

My first thought was that it was one of the neighborhood cats, and it was looking for either company or a free meal. That's when this things stepped out of the shadows and into the light from the corner streetlamp. White and gray, pointy face, ungainly body... long rat-like tail.

About six feet from me was probably the biggest damn opossum I'd seen in my life. (Unless you count the ones sunbathing by the roadside.) Now, in my experience, 'possums are nasty buggers, but they're basically cowards unless you back them into a corner. So I shouted at it.

Nothing. In fact, it waddled forward. Stupid critter.

So, I stamped my foot hard on the pavement and shouted again. That got its attention. (And hurt like hell, btw.) It stopped and stared at me. I took a step forward, and it shot me a dirty look before slowly creeping back under hubby's truck.

For the remainder of my cigarette, it stared at me from between the back tires while I watched to make sure it didn't sneak up on me.

It's probably on its merry way now. I like animals, but I'm not a huge fan of 'possums. I'm happy it's gone, and it's probably just as happy that I'm back inside.

But, hey, at least the mystery of the midnight scat has been solved.

PS. In retrospect, confronting a wild animal probably wasn't the wisest move on my part. Chances are it can run faster than I can, and all I had for a weapon was the snow-shovel I keep by the door. (And I'm not even sure I could've grabbed it before the 'possum grabbed me.) Nasty little things with sharp pointy little teeth. Ugh.

PPS. Umm... is it just me or did that last part remind you of Monty Python and the Holy Grail?



Kristen Painter said...

Possums will eat any cat food you leave out, too. And if one was out during daylight, chances are it wasn't well. Be careful!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Good advice, Kristen. Never approach an animal that's acting out of character. I found out last night while I was researching that possums will eat cat food (and almost anything else), so it's a good thing I don't leave food out anymore. Of course, possums need to eat, too, and for as nasty as possums are, this one was kinda fluffy and cute. I just wish it would've leave its leavings behind.