Friday, August 21, 2009


A few nights ago I heard a ruckus on the bedroom patio and opened my eyes to see a giant rat! Well, it wasn't exactly a rat, but it certainly looked like one. Until that night, I had never seen an opossum. I'd heard of them, read about them, but never actually seen one. This little fella backed up a bit from the door when he saw me moving around. He didn't seem interested in the corn or sunflower seeds on the back porch. He was munching on the apple chunks I set out on the table for the mama raccoon and her babies.

Opossums are plentiful in Texas, and they do look like rats. They only come out at night and they prefer to live in dark, enclosed places. Sometimes, they even build their homes underground! They tend to live alone, but have also been known to live in small family groups.

The pictures I've seen of opossums show them hanging upside down from tree limbs by their tails. These pictures always reminded me a bit of bats. Apparently, the adults rarely hang from their tails. It's more of a childhood act. This makes sense when you see how big an opossum really is! The tail just isn't strong enough to hold the weight. They use it more like another hand when climbing trees, or to carry twigs and such when building nests. They can get to be quite large. There is a similar animal in Australia called a possum, which tends to be a bit smaller.

If they feel threatened, opossums make a deep growling sound. If the threat continues, and their fear increases, the sound grows to a high-pitched screech. When the boys are looking for girlfriends, they make a clicking sound with their mouth, and when they find a mate, the female makes a clicking sound in return.

Opossums eat bugs, birds, snakes and mice, but they also love fruit, which explains why I found one on my back porch. He certainly seemed to be enjoying the apple pieces. The raccoon did come by about an hour later, but she had plenty to eat because the squirrels had left some corn and sunflower seeds from the day before.

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