Or you say “Possum” — like Dame Edna Everage — and I say “Opossum.”
Last week there was an intriguing little story of an opossum who took an early morning ride on the D-Train from Brooklyn into Manhattan. Read about the Jerome the Possum’s 15 minutes of fame here.
It is worth noting that this gangsta marsupial did not defend itself by “playing possum.” The animal bared his/her teeth and got a private car all to him/herself ~ the gender of the animal was never confirmed, but only a true New Yorker would stand his/her ground with such confidence.
But I think the opossum is a misunderstood creature when we involuntarily shiver and call it a “big rat.” Unlike rats, opossums eat all sorts of pests — including rattlesnakes! I’ve only seen them shuffling along at night although as a teenager out at dawn I saw one hanging in a tree (prehensile tail — I love to say “prehensile”) with her babies clinging to her fur. Even then I admired the efficiency of a Mom who could transport her family in either a pouch or on her back. Their dun coloring and pointy snout, complete with 50 teeth (!) are marvels of evolution. Constance Casey reminds us that the earliest possum was among the first mammals to walk with the dinosaurs. So take that, T-Rex — look whose progeny are still walking this Earth!
This story made me think about all the wonders of Nature we just don’t notice. I’ve lived in the ‘burbs my whole life and it amazes me how many of my neighbors are four-legged and furry. I’ve seen deer out in the open during the day, and we’ve had a family of groundhogs take up residence every summer under the shed next door. Sure, our neighborhood is a nice place to raise a family, and we all should try to get along, but there are times these creatures are not all that neighborly (when they eat ALL your produce and flowers with reckless and obvious abandon). So I welcome the unobtrusive opossum to my environment, and encourage her to enjoy all the cultural amenities of the metropolitan area… and eat all the snakes she can find.