Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Wildlife Wednesday: Possum Edition

Living on a farm, I sometimes have adventures with wildlife that my coworkers consider bizarre -- for me, it's just another day. Last Friday morning, DH was doing his chores (which involves taking care of his chickens), when he saw some baby possums. Their mom was dead, and he thought they might look old enough to be on their own, so he decided not to touch them and just let nature take its course. Did he stick to that idea? Fuck no, of course not. So Friday night while I was trying to ride, he wandered back down to where he saw them with a big rubbermaid tote and a blanket and fished them out of the little grass den they'd made. Since I rode so late, by the time we got in it was almost 9 o'clock, and he had 5 baby possums who had been out in the heat all day and presumably had not eaten or had anything to drink. 



After consulting Dr. Google, we decided baby possums were out of our depth (PLUS I HATE THEM, can you spell EPM?), so we started trying to contact possum rescues -- of which there are a truly alarming amount. We found one about two hours away, and the lady who ran it told us to give them a shallow dish of water and wet dog food for the evening, and then to try to get them to a rescue first thing Saturday morning for formula. She had about 40 babies in house at the moment (!!!) so she attempted to find us somewhere closer to take them. 


The irony of putting them in a Smartpak box with their slogan "for healthy horses" all over the side was not lost on me. Apparently keeping their body temp up is key and Saturday was actually really cool, so I microwaved some hot/cold packs, put them in a ziplock, and then slid the ziplock under their towel for the drive. 

Of course first thing Saturday DH had a chiropractor appointment (still trying to get his back right), so he networked on the drive to and from and was finally able to find someone a little closer (only about an hour away, instead of two) who had the space and time for these guys. By the time he got home and we packed them into the car, it was raining anyway, so a road trip was at least an interesting way to spend the day! We took them to a woman who is licensed through the state as a wildlife rehabber -- she had raccoons, other baby possums, and even a bat! She had a really cool set up, with special rooms and cages both inside and outside (and biosecurity protocols, which I thought was relatively impressive given the circumstances). She let us come in and watch her weigh the babies and give them a quick meal of formula before settling them into their new digs. There were two boys, three girls, and she was impressed with all of their weight, and said they were in great shape all things considered. We filled out some paperwork, left her a donation, and then gradually made our way back home (stopping for lunch at the Krumbly Burger and doing some shopping along the way!). 

One of her little racoons. I desperately wanted to snuggle it, but of course did not. Little trash panda. 

Apparently baby possums don't nurse like most mammals, so if you try to bottle feed them you can cause them to aspirate milk into their lungs. Normally they lap up milk, but for these guys she ran a tube down their throat and delivered the formula directly into their hungry little bellies. The other litter of possum babies she'd had for a little longer (although they were younger than the ones we brought in) and she showed us how she taught them to lap up the milk - she put it in a shallow pan and set them in it, and they hate having dirty feet, so they'd clean it off, and eventually make the connection to lap it up! Of course ours needed food too much to leave it to chance like that, so she'll probably tube feed them for a bit before she teaches them to lap up formula. 

After she sexed and weighed each ones (making notes, and delivering formula by their weight), she tucked them all into a nice clean cage with a blanket. She said she'll send updates if we want, we'll see how that goes. 

After they're a little bigger, she will work to reintroduce them into the wild -- apparently she gets a lot of requests from people to bring possums out and release them on their land, since they do such a good job at keeping down ticks, fleas, snakes, etc. I'm just glad they won't be growing up on my farm in close contact to my horses :) Thus ends our good Samaritan job of the weekend, lol. 


16 comments:

  1. Aww, good for you and hubby. Is there a way to have possums but not EPM? We don’t have them here so I know very little about them.

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    1. Not all possums carry EPM (they get it from eating dead birds) but there's no way to tell because they're only carriers, they don't show symptoms. And after watching a horse I cared a great deal for die a slow and horrible death from EPM, I don't want them anywhere near my barns or pastures.

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  2. I feel like I talk to you constantly (literally) and I totally missed this, lol. What an interesting saga.

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    1. 不 I think most of it happened the day you were doing your tough mudder!

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  3. We saw a baby one in our neighborhood the other day. The grown ones like to crawl around our alleys. They creep me out but I'm supportive of anything that eats ticks!

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    1. I'm fine with them anywhere but my own property, with the horses at home haha.

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  4. I STATE AGAIN: LEAH GETS ADORABLE KITTENS AND BABY OPOSSUMS AND WHAT DO I GET? A SHED FULL OF MUMMIFIED OPOSSUMS AND ROAD KILL.

    I'm returning this farm. This experience is NOT what I ordered.

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    1. 不不不 it's like I put out a homing signal and all animals, even wildlife, know that I'm a sucker hahaha. At least we got that feral Siamese spayed so no more kittens!

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  5. As you know, I love this post.

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  6. We have scooped up SO MANY wild animals in the two years we've been on the farm, too. The most memorable was probably a black-backed jackal who fell into an empty concrete reservoir. He was unhurt, but the wildlife rescue guys had to come out and catch him to get him back to safety!

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    1. Oh my gosh that's way crazier than any of my wildlife stories! I'm glad they were able to rescue him!

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  7. You guys are such good humans helping those little nuggets! Even if they are epm carrying death eaters.

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    1. It's easier to hate the adults (who are so ugly) but baby animals of almost any species are too cute to hate I'm just glad they had a happy ending that doesn't involve ending up anywhere near my horses lol

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  8. They are so cute, I'm a weirdo and love possums. I showed my husband the pics and contemplated trying to get one from you to keep (which my husband was not thrilled with my line of thinking).

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    1. I don't mind them in any other context I just don't want them near my horses, lol. I would have happily shipped you one but I feel like our Conservation department would frown on that, lol. At least now they'll have a chance to go be wild and free possums!

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