Possum news

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The big news this week is that an opossum in Florida broke into a liquor store, cracked open one of those little single serve bottles of booze and got drunker than a skunk.

How the possum got into the liquor store to begin with isn’t entirely clear, but the drunk critter was taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center where it immediately went to the detox ward, with plans to begin the 12-step program.

“Michelle Pettis, a wildlife health technician at the refuge, said the juvenile female opossum was brought in by a Fort Walton Beach police officer Nov. 24. He said a Cash’s Liquor Store employee at the AJ’s on the Bayou location discovered the opossum next to a broken and empty bottle of alcohol the morning after Thanksgiving,” a story in the nwfdailynews.com reports.

Pettis said the opossum appeared disoriented, was excessively salivating and appeared to be pale, the story noted.

Montana has a lot of critters. It does not have possums. (Growing up in the East, where possums are as common as robins, we never pronounced the first “o”) Possums are a secretive, east coast critter. Primarily critters of the night, you rarely saw one alive, but they weren’t too smart around roads, so you saw a lot of dead ones, hit by cars.

I’ve been up close and personal to plenty of possums in my life. They’re North America’s only marsupial, meaning they raise their young in a pouch on their belly. Their mouths are full of big teeth, but they’re better at playing dead than getting into fights.

As kids, we would catch them in traps, but since their pelts were nearly worthless, we usually just let them go.

You could pick them up by their rat-like tail and they’d do nothing. Well, most would do nothing. Every once in a while one would decide that playing dead wasn’t such a great idea after all, and put those teeth to use. I’ve never been bitten by a possum, but I’ve come close.

I’ve also never been stepped on by a moose, but I’ve come close to that as well. (Which is a story for another time).

The older I got, the more I came to appreciate possums. The world can be particularly unkind to small creatures, yet possums have carved themselves out a pretty good niche and their range is expanding. It helps that they’ll eat just about anything and they smell awful.

I’m sure they fit right in a lot of places back East. Washington, D.C. comes to mind...

Have a good week.

Chris Peterson is the editor of the Hungry Horse News.

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