|Litter #1 - Pete and Blossom (1994-1996) - pictures|
You never get over your first possums...
Our story as humble possum parents begins in 1994 when we found our first "set" of possums.
We found Pete and Blossom in the yard out behind the house. We never did figure out how they came to be left there.
At first, I thought they were baby rats and was getting ready to stomp on them. (there had been a rat problem here the summer before)
Luckily Donna came out and looked at them. She said they didn't look like rats, nor mice. Must be baby possums. Some had little pouches in their bellies.
They were smaller than field mice and nearly bald. Their eyes and ears were still sealed and they could barely walk. We brought them in and nursed them. They were all wobbly and very clingy.
They hissed when you put them down and whenever they got hungry. They hissed a lot.
We fed them a mix of soy milk and 2% milk with a little bit of Karo syrup out of an eyedropper. The Karo was because we heard that it would keep them from getting bound up. We rushed them into eating solid food because that's what we thought you did. We were so happy when they were able to sit and hold their own grapes.
Later we found out that baby possums do not eat anything solid for quite some time. The mother opossum chews and feeds everything to them.
Since they had to be fed every three hours they had to go every where with us. There were feeding sessions in the truck during breaks when I was out playing with my band.
They were true "road possums" and came along with us on trips to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Illinois (that's a suburb of Saint Louis). I'll bet they're the only possums to ever go into the Mount Morris truck stop men's room under somebody's knit hat.
They were a novelty and we never got tired of getting them out and showing them off. Company? Ah, go get the possums! We were proud to be humble possum parents. When they were grown up enough to go out on their own we could not bear to let them go and kept them as pets.
They were mostly paper trained, ate the dog's food, licked and rubbed and chewed on everything they could find and slept in a cardboard box at the foot of the bed.
Their diet consisted mostly of dog food because that's what we had plenty of. Also vast quantities of table scraps and other goodies, like cheese, which they never could get enough of.
There are physical features about Pete and Blossom that are not readily noticed by people who have never been around possums. We had nothing to compare them to. The only possums we had ever seen were flat. Pete and Blossom seemed normal and were quite three dimensional. They were active, hungry, growing and endearing. We thought they were doing fine. We now know that were very ignorant about possums.
They did not live more than a couple years.
Pete died after a surgery to remove an unhealing and increasingly bad looking sore in his back. We later read that it was dermal septic necrosis.
Blossom died of kidney failure and bone deterioration. Her nose was stunted and her tail was puffed up about twice normal size. She was horribly cross-eyed. She developed nasty problems urinating. Then she lost control of her back legs and became unable to walk or even stand up.
We theorized that these possums had some inherent genetic problem and nature made the mother instinctively abandon them in the yard.
Pete and Blossom's abnormalities were not genetic, they were caused by improper human-inflicted diet. All these problems were preventable.
They were gagging on fat, salt and carbohydrates and starving for the nutrients and enzymes found in natural food.
They lived in quiet suffering for months before they finally expired. Neither one ever complained. Knowing what I know now about how easily damaged possums are, I am surprised they lived as long as they did.
I am ashamed to say that when I first realized that Pete and Blossom were getting sick, I looked at the National Opossum Society web site but I didn't want to spend the money to join. I thought I could figure it out myself or that they would eventually just get better.
I avoided contacting a vet because I had been told that you weren't allowed to keep possums and I thought that they would take them away from us. Here, to find out that permits were two dollars each and all they needed to get better was the proper diet and some veterinary antibiotics.
If there was one lesson learned with Pete and Blossom, it was DON'T OVERFEED POSSUMS WITH FATTY FOODS. Both these possums got a reasonable amount of activity, their caloric intake was just way too much. Both were extremely overweight, as the pictures will show. We just had nothing to compare them too.
When you look at pictures of Pete and Blossom, remember, we had NOT THE FOGGIEST idea what we were doing.
Those with sharp eyes will see a third little possum in the first picture. This is the possum that taught us to always keep the screen door shut to keep cats out. There was a fourth little possum in the box before we took the first picture. This is the possum that taught us not to leave gaps and spaces under the hot water bottle where they can crawl down into and get stuck.
The picture of Pete with his hand on the bowl of food while I'm holding the other side down to keep it from tipping over was taken the night he returned after 'escaping' and being outside all day and night.
The old saying "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it's yours - if it doesn't, it never was." should be changed to "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back... it's freaking hungry."
|Litter #2 - The Hodgesville Six (2000-2001) - pictures|
We named these possums Theo Possum, Dozer, Manfred, Poor Stewart, Lucy and Ruby.
Fast forward to August 2000. Narrow country road. Dark night. Possum in the headlights. Can't stop. Run, possum! No, the other way! Keep your head down low! Clunk.
Well, like Theo told you, Mom was pretty sad when I went back, but there in the safety of her warm pouch were six wee ones. Rather than remove the babies right there and take them home loose and squirming, I just put mom and all in the bed of the pickup.
After our failure at raising Pete and Blossom, this was a second chance. We were on a mission to successfully raise these six little possums. Less fat and junk, more good food and exercise. Yes sir, we were going to do it right this time.
You can imagine our dismay when once again, after only a month, they all started to get sick.
This time I got on the internet and found the phone number for the National Opossum Society. The phone call got us a detailed explanation of what we had to do right away. We choked up $35 (cheap!) and joined which got us a manilla envelope stuffed full of nearly every data sheet and newsletter the National Opossum Society ever printed.
I also trooped up to the DNR office at the French Creek Game Farm and applied for six wild pet permits. Twelve bucks and no more worrying about someone finding out we had them!
The new diet and medical attention turned them right around. It took over a month for the results of MBD to be totally reversed, but it worked.
As hard as it was to let go, we felt that it would be best not to keep this bunch as pets like we had with Pete and Blossom. We decided to keep them over winter and let them go in spring.
Unfortunately, they grew to quite some size in that time and we had to go buy a big wire cage. Believe me, the wife loves possums, but she is not too happy with six of them running loose in the house.
Pete and Blossom were manageable and got along OK because there was just one male and one female. But with this bunch, there were four males, and they were not happy with being in the same house let alone the same cage after puberty.
A ton of yogurt and cat food later, warm weather finally came and not a minute too soon. We opened the door one nice day and Dozer and Poor Stewart were gone like bullets. (as much as possums can move like bullets, that is)
Never looked back. Adios! Hasta la vista. Not even a 'see you later, thank you for all the 3AM feedings, wiping my butt, warm bed and so on'.
That night it snowed a blizzard and we figured they were goners, but you know what? One night, two months later, we saw Dozer out back on top of the possum cage. Think possums need humans?
When we last saw them, Dozer, Lucy, Manfred and Poor Stewart were completely normal. Theo was very low slung and had a hump in his nose and Ruby was a little underweight for her age. Theo was the last to leave in May of 2001.
Lucy came back a dozen or so times looking for goodies, then eventually less often, then not at all.
We've seen three very small ones outside over the last month and wonder if just maybe they might be our grandpossums.
When you look at pictures of the second litter, remember we start out with us being just as ignorant about diet, feeding them grapes, cantaloupe and turkey. Our methods improve midway with this group.
|Litter #3 - The Pierpont Five (2002) - pictures|
July 31, 2002 - After being possumless for over a year, I received a call from a man in Morgantown who said he had been looking at this web site.
He asked if I knew anything about possums. I said "well... a little".
He said he had five little ones that his wife found out along the road. We made a quick trip to Morgantown and found five adorable, healthy orphans about 80 grams each. We have been feeding them the prescribed National Opossum Society diet, they are doing well and are very curious and active. Two have added 8 grams just since yesterday. We'll keep you posted on their progress.
We identified these possums Red, Blue, Green, Violet and Black by colored ink dots on their tails.
August 8, 2002 - All five are now over 100 grams and eating like pigs.
August 18, 2002 - They have quickly outgrown their cardboard box and are now living in a large plywood container about 3' by 4' by 5' high, with a bed section, a playground and a pooper. They have a log and a limb to climb on, and several cardboard tubes to chew on and a fuzzy teddy bear and hot water bottle to sit on top of.
Their food is gradually changing to more solid in mixture, giving up the totally liquid baby formula. They are all over 200 grams now and quickly approaching 300 grams.
We have chosen to not give this set stupid human names. They are identified by colored ink dots on their tails and are called green, blue, red, violet and black! They will be released in about a month.
August 23, 2002 - This bunch has graduated from the plywood box to the wire cage. They have been climbing all over the cage, up the sides and up side down on each level. We have been putting the cage out on the back porch so they can get used to the smells and sounds of outside. They are very wary, as we do not spend as much personal time with them as we did the other two sets. They will be much better acclimated to the wild if they do not get so people-ized. We put a pouch bag in the cage and they all piled in. They just love it.
We gave them some fruit but that just gave them the runs so we'll just stick to the formula. They don't seem to have any interest in the dry cat food.
We let green and violet run in the grass last night. Green was ready to go, he was all over under the car and the tree out back. Violet was more wary and stayed close to Dad until she got scared and ran into the flower bed. That was a job finding her amid the plants.
August 29, 2002 - Still doing well, despite their stuntedness. Green is the spitting personality of Dozer, running around the box like a madman. The five are getting nearer their release date at the end of September.
September 9, 2002 - They are growing up so fast. Since last entry, the five possums have been spending nights outside. We set the cage up behind the back shed and put a couple cloth pouches in it. The last two nights the cage door has been left open. So far they have been coming back to the cage each morning. They are wiping out the cave crickets, spiders and other creepy-crawlies from under the back shed. Today they had a ring neck snake for lunch. (sorry buddy... wrong place - wrong time) We still feed them some of the possum slop along with more fruits vegetables, a bit of beef liver, steamed chicken bones and other goodies.
Funny how these possums remind us of earlier possums we had, Green is rammy like Dozer, Black is quiet like Poor Stewart, Blue is friendly like Manfred, Red is confident like Lucy and Violet is petite like Ruby.
Uh, oh... is that capital letters I see on the possum color-names?
September 11, 2002 - The last few mornings we have found Red, Blue, Black and Violet in the bags in the cage out back. Green has not been seen for a few days. We go out at night with a flash light and look for 'glowing eyes'. Violet has been very cuddly lately when we bring them into the house. Last night she sat beside me on the couch and fell asleep while the others sat in the bag on my lap. Some got out and explored and when they peed on the couch it was time to go back out.
September 12, 2002 - The guys are still living in the open cage up back behind the shed. Black, Blue and Violet have been staying in the cage. They have been dragging back dry leaves with which to fill their pouch bag. I shot the flashlight up the hollow looking for 'eyes' and saw two peering back. When I headed up, I found Green underneath a pile of old cut wood with Red. They have a little path worn at one end and even have a back door down to the creek. They are definitely getting used to outdoor living.
September 16, 2002 - The guys are playing musical cage-pouch. One morning Blue is in it, the next morning Black is in it. A couple mornings ago Violet and Blue were in it. We have not seen Green or Red for some time. I'd like to see Violet one more time. I miss her.
September 19, 2002 - No sign of any of the five anymore. They are all out doing what possums do... walking, eating, mating, avoiding owls, foxes and inspecting tire tread.
September 26, 2002 - Well, last night we found a big surprise. We found three of the five possums in the back yard running around in the drizzle. They were all wet and looking for food. They were leery at first but then came to us and let us pick them up and bring them in for dinner and pictures. They turned out to be all three of the males Green, Blue and Black. One was 800 grams. We left the back door open. Looking around in the yard later, I found Violet. Hoped I would. She was 540 grams. All signs of the MBD in the wrists are gone. Black and Blue had been getting limpy, but now appear normal.
After running around the house exploring the old hiding places and spending the night under the big dresser they took off. It was very pleasant to see them all again. All four are looking fantastic and are obviously able to look out after themselves. They did not seem to mind each other. They must hang together while they are still young, then separate after puberty. Very mercenary... 'give us the food' and 'see ya!'. Except for Violet, who has decided for the time being to stay. She likes to cuddle. Pictures soon.
December 14, 2002 - Much time has passed. As of mid October all are out and on their own. One large female and one large male live under the house. Interestingly, this bunch never completely lost their ear stripes. They all still have about 1/8 to 3/16 inch of white across the tips of their ears. They all go into the cage to eat. Sometimes they sleep in the sleeping bag we put in the cage. The large male let me pick him up and bring him inside for apples and grapes. He was nervous at first until we got situated. We long ago lost track of who was who, color-wise. Some of the others have been seen occasionally but not regularly. One large male was found dead on the road out front due to some ignorant velocity addict. I can see why they get hit, last night as I was coming home, one of the girls was out on the road in the rain. I drove right up to her and she just sat there looking at me.
March 7, 2003 - There are still four or five possums from two different litters eating on the porch each night. Some run away when we go out, but most stick around to see if they are going to get special goodies. We have no idea who is whom. One big male was bleeding on one of his hands and we saw that he had lost three fingernails, we don't know how.
|Litter #4 - The Game Farm Nine (2002) - pictures|
August 28, 2002 - We got a call from the French Creek game farm today, they said they had nine baby possums!!! Could we come get them? Well, we already have five, what's nine more?
We identified these possums Hi-Red, Lo-Red, Hi-Orange, Lo-Orange, Hi-Blue, Lo-Blue, Hi-Purple, Lo-Purple and Yellow. 'Hi-' and 'Lo-' means the dot is high or low on the tail, not having nine ink colors to use.
They are all underweight, not very well nourished and are now on the Henness diet. They have a good appetite. Their weights are on the order of between 50 and 100 grams which is nowhere near the 300 to 400 of the set of five we already have.
Three have Ruby's disease, loss of white guard hairs, looking dark gray overall. Some are showing the early signs of MBD, swollen knuckle joints and knees, but not too bad. We got them just in time.
They are all active and very attentive. We judge by their behavior, that they are about a week younger than our set of five. Three are very tiny, less than 50 grams, but have already been eating dry cat food. All have started the biting stage (teething) and their white stripes on their ears are very narrow, which is why we think they are nearly the same age as our set of five.
August 29, 2002 - Looking at the set of five next to the set of nine is interesting. We thought the five were small until we got the nine. THEY are SMALL.
September 9, 2002 - We took the little possums out for some exercise today. They all ran around and even 'associated' with the big ones (the six). They were all curious about each other but did not show any signs of fear or aggression. It was a game of 'count the possums' every five minutes. Little Purple took off for the weeds and we had to give up trying to find him when we went in. Later today, we found him in the box we left out for him. He had a spot of blood on his ear and was very scared, we don't know what happened to him but he was certainly not his normal self. We think he got caught in the rose brambles
September 11, 2002 - The little possums are getting bigger finally. Some just refuse to grow however. Little Purple and Yellow still look like mice while the larger ones are starting to fill out and grow up. We have been letting them run in the mud room for exercise. Little Purple's trauma is all better, now.
September 12, 2002 - The little possums have graduated from the cardboard box to the big plywood box on the floor. They are also growing up fast, that is most of them. We think Little Purple will never get big. He still looks like a mouse but he runs like the dickens and has a good appetite. We gave them a few cereal boxes and a coffee can to explore in. They dragged rags into one of the cereal boxes. They go outside and run when we have time to watch them.
September 15, 2002 - Little Purple gets into trouble because his brain thinks he is a bigger possum than his body really is. He backs the big possums three times his size away from the food dish. Evidently he got into it with something or someone who did not back off because we found him under the porch with a big scrape on his face and a slice that went half way around his tail. If it had been any worse it would have been cut clear off. It is healing up nicely but there is a knot where the cut was. He can still use it OK. Purple needs to realize that he is not quite the big possum he thinks he is, but then he always was one for getting into arguments, even with rose brambles.
September 16, 2002 - The little ones have grown up to where some can be put outside. They are getting used to the outdoor smells.
September 19, 2002 - Of the nine, some are outside and some are inside. Lo-Red is now back inside. She was sitting outside in the cage shivering, looking like she did not know what to do. She looked so small so we brought her back in with the others and now she is soooo happy.
So now we have five little ones left inside. We saw two of the small ones out back last night. One was in a stack of logs and one up on the hill. All you have to do is shine the flashlight, make a clicking noise and look for the eyeballs. They run from us now and that is good.
September 25, 2002 - We let Lo-Blue out to walk around in the back yard and she disappeared.
September 26, 2002 - Regarding coexistence of possums from different litters, while some of the five were visiting, we put big Violet into the cage so she could go potty and Hi-Red and Little Purple nipped at her.
Neither was there was any welcome home from the little indoor ones for the family reunion of one of their own litter. Little Hi-Orange, who has been out for the last eleven days, came in to visit. There was lots of sniffing and nipping. She was very happy to get out from the others, in fact when let out she ran across the floor to hide under the dresser. Later with the door open, she took off with nary a toodaloo to the others.
October 1, 2002 - We had been keeping Little Purple inside, because he was so small and stunted, but he just became a real problem. He was climbing shelves, knocking things down, making noise all night and peeing in the couch. He was behaving like Theo did when he just had enough of being stuck in the house. I opened the door and said "Do It!", and he did.
December 14, 2002 - All the little ones are set out on their own. Little Purple stuck around for a while as did about three of the girls. One we call 'Dark Eyes' is a regular at the dish each evening, but we haven't seen Little Purple for a while, we are not sure where he went.
In any event, of the five and the nine, all fourteen survived our care and have been successfully released into the wild to deal with life in their own way.
December 20, 2002 - Only one large male and one large female from the litter of six are still coming around. They have residence under our house, but we don't know which ones they are. The rest seem to have taken off. They are probably nearby, we just don't take the time to sit out and watch for them. They are wanderers, here today, gone tomorrow, never to be seen again. The snow is pushed up against the porch and we just throw food under the edge, but we can't see them. I managed to actually pick up one of the large males and one of the medium sized females. Very slowly and carefully with cheese as a diversion. Big as cats. I brought them inside long enough for pictures, then back out.
February 10, 2002 - We still have two living under the house, "Dark Eyes" and another bigger one, who knows who. They are VERY wary of us, but they do recognize that we are somehow associated with their "food". We have to move very slowly or they take off running and hide under the porch. Donna walked out the door the other morning and surprised a big one. He took off up the hill and ran under the shed. They can move quickly when they want to, even if it IS with a considerable waddle.
March 7, 2003 - There are still four or five possums eating on the porch each night. Some run away when we go out, but most stick around to see if they are going to get special goodies. We have no idea who is whom. One big male was bleeding on one of his hands and we saw that he had lost three fingernails, we don't know how.
March 31, 2003 - Still two or three coming around regularly. One female and one male. The female eats first and the male waits or faces her wrath. We have been calling the male "White Face". We think he is the same one on my lap in the picture just below. Another female with a real long nose comes about sometimes.
April 9, 2003 - We were all sitting at the kitchen table talking and one guest says "look at that thing looking in the door". It was the little girl possum saying "Hey, where's my dinner?" She came in for treats and pictures. I'll have them up soon.
April 10, 2003 - We were looking out the front door about 6PM and saw one of the possums walking down across the yard. It looked like the girl I referred to just above. We thought this was strange for her to be out as it was still light. We opened the door and yelled "babies!" and sure nuff she turned around and started toward the house. I threw some cat food down on the ground and she started to eat it up. We noticed a pretty bad bunch of scars on her back and thought 'this isn't right, she was fine last night'. I checked her over and here it turned out to be one of the males from the last litter of nine. This would have to be either Hi-Purple or Low (Little) Purple. We decided it must be "Little Purple" as he was the one to always get into scrapes. It looks like he was bitten right across the spine by a dog. He must have been holed up taking it easy, because the wounds are almost healed, but for a big scab on top that still looks pretty bad. He is thin, must have been holed up for a while. He is inside now sleeping in the rag box. We are keeping an eye on him.
April 25, 2003 - The injured possum is gone we know not where or to what fate, he was not so happy being inside and we decided it was best to let him go out and find his own destiny.
And that's about the end of our diary until the next time I get a phone call or meet up with an unfortunate roadkill.
|Litter #5 - The Lumberport Six (2003) - pictures|
July 26, 2003 - We got a call from a lady in Lumberport a few days ago, she said the Game Farm told her to call us. So now we are once again suffering from sleep deprivation, never-ending responsibility, overwhelming concern for welfare and incredible delight at progress.
We identified these possums Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Purple and Black.
July 31, 2003 - In just five days we have seen these six change from helpless fuzzies to aggressive, individual personalities. They are now in the "stay on top of Mom at all cost" phase, especially Green who seems only to want to be on me. Anytime we stick our hand down in the box we get an armload of self-stick carry-on luggage.
Pictures are waiting at WallyWorld, that great bastion of free enterprise and protector of the American worker...
Also got the condo built, two boxes side by side with a hole between, a log, sticks and branches on one side, room for their bed-box, a cereal box, cardboard tubes, ramps, a cloth teddy bear and so on in the other side. Weights are quickly approaching 200 grams.
August 12, 2003 - The six are finally filling out their fur, getting big heads, long bodies and bad attitudes. We brought the wire cage in and moved them out of the cardboard condo. It was much too hard to keep clean. We hung pouches in the cage and they all piled in.
Green still will not hear of anything but sitting on my arm. He gets frantic when I put him down. Purple is an adventurer. Black is an escape artist still small enough to fit through the 1" x 2" spacing of the wire cage. Blue is spoiled but is a gentleman when he is eating. Red is getting fat, she is the biggest, but sweet. Yellow is also a gentleman, but is not so much the adventurer. They ran all night long out in the work room one night while Mom was away. (don't tell her!)
August 13, 2003 - We took four of them out on the porch today but they didn't want to stay out long. Blue even figured out how to go around the house on the deck and get in through the back door. Black ran at the wall and climbed up one of the battens on the siding. The batten is a vertical 1x2 pine board that covers the cracks between the barnboard siding. He went up about 5 feet then turned around and went back down. Ever have a possum in your attic? Don't wonder how they got there! They are climbers! Pete and Blossom used to climb clear to the top of the screen doors.
August 15, 2003 - Purple squeezed through the cage and ran through the house all night. Naughty!
August 17, 2003 - Yellow ate a tomato worm that we picked out of the garden today. Green and Red spent some time in the fenced vegetable garden today. Green kept chasing after me to get on. He's still a mama's boy. Blue was in the garden for a couple hours and got lost in the tall weeds. Later, as I was walking past the garden, he came running after me to get on. That was cute.
Red got to go out on the back deck in the evening while it was raining lightly. She kept running off the deck and falling down into the grass. We got her a couple of times, then figured just let her run. It started raining harder and I couldn't catch her. Possums at this age are very comical, they stop and start running instantly, taking off in a flurry of little feet. She was out in the thunderstorm for about twenty minutes until I finally saw her in the yard where I could get her. She was wet and happy to come in.
August 18, 2003 - Lots of changes. Everyone is between 250 and 350 grams. Growing fast. They are starting to grin when you scratch her cheeks. Green started his drooling. Pete always did that.
We moved the big wire cage out to the back yard. The bottom is open so they can get used to grass, the top is covered for rain. They are all up and alert, listening and smelling... looking, and wanting out. We will open the doors in a few nights and they will be able to come and go as they please. Weeks earlier than we expected to.
We stuck a crawdad in the cage and Black was on him in a flash, then the others were on Black in a flash. They all shared, sort of, even if there was some nipping.
Donna, just by chance, heard a cat meowing in the weeds today. There should not be a cat within a mile of here. Luckily the cat was trusting enough to come to me. I relocated said cat and the possums (and the birds) breathed easier. Cats? We don' need no steenking cats!
August 19, 2003 - At about 9PM we opened the cage door. The six were all looking longingly into the night and we figured it was time. We will see who is in the cage in the morning.
August 21, 2003 - The big six from Lumberport are all released, have not seen anyone for two nights, though we know they are there from the activity at the food bowls.
August 22, 2003 - Had a curious happening yesterday. Donna and I packed up all our sound equipment into the trailer and headed to Parsons to run sound for a country band that was playing at the Tucker County Fair. While we were setting up equipment on the stage, we found a little possum on the floor dodging our feet. When we caught him, we found he had a black ink spot on his tail. Hmm???!?
Black evidently got into a road-bag of mic stands that was sitting on the deck and rode along in the trailer. Lucky he didn't get smashed. He was quite upset and beside himself and it took several hours before he settled down again.
I let him ride around on my shoulder for a while and I'm sure that several people who saw him there thought I was nuts. He is back home and re-released, this time we hope for good. Lucky him, he almost became a Tucker county possum... and they eat possum up there, I hear tell.
August 26, 2003 - Black comes back from time to time. Usually about 2 in the afternoon, he gets in the cage, eats and goes into the bag only to disappear a few hours later.
August 28, 2003 - Came home to see a small possum run up the peach tree in the headlights. Got the flash light and expected to find a possum hiding way up in the branches, but found Blue sitting there about six feet up chewing on a peach. Got him down for some possum slop and pets (I know, I'm a sucker). He ate it all up and then took off.
August 31, 2003 - No one seen for several days. Cage empty.
September 7, 2003 - None of the six have been seen for quite a while, though the food has been emptied regularly. We took the peaches down from the tree because they were being devoured by night marauders.
September 14, 2003 - I was certain a cat had been eating the cat food we leave out in the open cage because so much of it disappeared so fast with no possums seen. There is no room for cats in this neighborhood, so I set the cage up to work as a trap, the door shuts and locks when something over about a pound in weight walks up to the food bowl. After two nights of catching nothing, last night I looked out about 2AM to see a mid-sized possum going back and forth in the cage. We went out to see who it was, maybe 1 pound with a VERY long pointy nose. He/she/it was not real scared, gave the initial wary possum stance with open jaws and low growl, but then softened and came over to sniff. Checked his/her/its butt to find it was a girl, we figure probably Red or Purple. Opened the cage, left some cheese bits and fresh cat food but she did not eat much and left.
September 27, 2003 - The peach tree was polluted with possums, way up in the upper branches, we think at least two were the Lumberport possums, males, probably Yellow or Blue, who were the last ones seen.
September 29, 2003 - I just took pictures of Red (or Purple). She was out in the cage eating. She just sat there there eating. It took about two minutes to pick her up and bring her in on my shoulder. Then she did me the honor of watering my shirt. It must have been the warmth against her feet. She did not care to be weighed but has gotten very large, and loved her bits of apple and cheese. Her coat is lovely, thick and full and she was very calm, if quite wary.
|Litter #6 - Pogo or Little Miss (2003) - pictures|
July 28, 2003 - Yesterday, a Churchville couple called and said they had a possum they call 'Pogo' who is about four inches long, could I take care of her, and I said "sure, what's one more?"
She turned out to be quite a bit smaller than I expected, eyes just open and very helpless. Very cold. Get her warmed up and on the diet. She is now sitting up and eating out of the eyedropper. Doing nicely. The others are not so happy about her taking their hot water bottle (remedied). That will be fixed today with a trip to Wally World. They need a bigger arrangement of boxes, with a separate area for bathroom and playroom. More newspaper. Time to build the possum condo. More new later, when we have time to ... gasp... breathe...
August 7, 2003 - Starting to explore around her box. Getting guard hairs.
August 11, 2003 - Little Miss (Pogo) is growing up fast. Today she showed her first reaction to extraneous noises. Starting to get on her guard.
She, being an only-possum, is developing a very individual personality. She's also turning into a little plumper.
August 13, 2003 - Little Miss went to Union City Pa. with her mom and was adored by everyone there. Everyone but Russ. ;)
They are both back home now. She is growing... up to about 65 grams already and getting her white guard hairs and ear fuzz. Looking more like a real possum everyday.
She eats well and cleans herself up very carefully after every meal. Sometimes she sucks her thumb (on her back foot, there are no thumbs on their hands).
August 18, 2003 - Last night Little Miss hit a milestone, she would not hear of getting her butt rubbed to make her go to the bathroom, she wanted to do it on her own. Big girl!
August 26, 2003 - Little Miss is torpedo shaped, loves to eat, hates to exercise, calculates every step, very sweet, very docile.
August 29, 2003 - Big milestone today for Little Miss. I got tired of watching Donna spend fifteen minutes at each feeding squirting food into the side of the mouth with an eyedropper while she licked the overflow off of Donna's palm. I set her down on the table with a dish full of possum slop and said 'Eat!"
After a few mis-starts and a shot or two up the nostrils, she figured it out. Little Miss can now eat on her own. 'Bout time, too! She is up to 250 grams.
September 1, 2003 - Finally full night sleeps. Everyone can survive without red eye. Little Miss has been spending more time out of the box, running the floors, finding corners and dark spaces, yesterday she found her way upstairs to the bedroom. Yes, right up the steps.
September 6, 2003 - Little Miss is outside now. She was not in the bag yesterday but she was there this morning, so at least we know she was not ett by wolves.
September 14, 2003 - Little Miss was in the cage the first morning out, then not seen the last two mornings. Found her wandering around outside the door looking for grub yesterday afternoon. Brought her in for treats. She looks good, her nose is getting long, not so stubby as it was. We almost thought she was one of LITTER #5 (Lumberport), but they would be much bigger than that by now. Nonetheless, she has grown and is doing well. Her tail was dirty which makes me think that she is gathering leaves to make her nest somewhere. We let her back out and she disappeared under the porch. Did not see her today. Maybe later.
September 22, 2003 - Little Miss was outside last night long enough to suck down some cat food and get her picture took. As I write this, Donna, who is downstairs canning carrots, says that Little Miss just came in from outside through the sliding porch door. She came over to her leg as if to say 'feed me, feed me'. It's raining lightly, so she is wet, but none the worse for wear, she evidently is doing OK.
October 3, 2003 - Last night Little Miss came in for an apple slice and some pictures.
October 21, 2003 - Tonight, Little Miss was in the cage eating. A large female from another litter was up in the peach tree warily eyeing us and waiting for us to go away.
|Litter #7 - Ping and Pong (2003) - pictures|
August 26, 2003 - We got two more baby possums, just little things, these from Elkins. They are doing well and are very active. (there were three but one did not make it)
We have given names to the two Elkins possums. Ping (female) and Pong (male). That must win a prize for most original names for possums... They are becoming cling-ons. They are starting to get their guard hairs. They are about the size now that Pogo was when we got her.
August 31, 2003 - Ping and Pong are growing, 72 and 80 grams. They are loosing the square face and are getting long noses, ear fuzz and white face hair. Very stout bodies, eating well. I twisted my hand around in various positions while they climbed around on my fingers. Good for balance and dexterity. Then it was about five minutes of 'catch the bus'. Palm flat on the floor, then move hand in front of possums so they have to run to get on. Circles, figure eights, etc. Good exercise for building legs. Pong was getting aggressive and we figured it was too much time stuck in the box. We let all three run the rugs for a while and they had fun, got worn out and slept soundly.
September 1, 2003 - Pong has taken to hanging on to Donna's arm with his teeth, which is not a welcome thing. They both are starting into the 'hang on at all costs' phase. Also are just starting to eat out of bowls. They still need to be dropper fed to make sure they are getting enough. Becoming very active, and can get out of the box if the lid is left off.
September 7, 2003 - Cool weather is coming. The locusts are droning their last warm days away, the morning glories are stretching across what's left of the roses on the front deck. An occasional blue tail lizard comes out of the morning glories to sit in the low angled sun, while hummingbirds suck the blossoms. Ping and Pong are off the nozzle now and eating out of the bowl. Everytime Donna goes away, someone learns to eat by himself. She says she is just too motherly. I do not have the patience to hold the eyedropper while they fool around stretching, reaching and doing acrobatics on the tip of my fingers. Ping and Pong will be going outside soon. It has been a good summer.
September 10, 2003 - Ping and Pong have been getting some outdoors time in the cage. They are still way to small to survive a night on their own, but soon... We dumped some worms down for them and they went mad devouring them. I got one picture of them with a worm stretched out between them like spaghetti. I hope it turns out.
September 14, 2003 - Pong is back inside as he does not care for outdoor cage life. He is very much a 'cling-on' and would as much care to just bite and hang on to my arm, or sit on my neck and go to sleep, as anything else. Ping, however, has taken to the outdoors like a true possum and spent the last night or two outside running. She is a bit small yet, but if that's what she wants and she thinks she can do it, all the better. Winter days are coming fast, she will need all the advantage she can get. Found her out at the cage this morning looking for gruel. She was growly and wary, which is good. She is loosing weight, which is not good. Maybe she is not the great hunter she hoped to be. Her weight is 162 where Pong's is 186. Brought her in and put her in the box with Pong and fed her some slop. She is sleeping.
September 17, 2003 - We woke up this morning thinking Pong was an only possum who would never want to be off mama. Yesterday we took him down the road and let him wander along the creek. All he wanted to do was run back up my leg. He can move fast. I was walking away fairly quickly and he was keeping right up. Then he shivered in my sleeve the whole way home. This morning I found Ping in the cage looking for food. We brought her in and compared weights. Active wild-running Ping possum eating bugs, grubs, worms, dirt and slime - svelt 166 grams, lazy box-sleeping Pong possum eating possum slop, no exersize, mama's boy - pudgy 216 grams.
September 22, 2003 - Ping also came back for food, then left, Pong is still inside, he does not like outdoor life yet. He is on my shoulder and says 'HI' to y'all.
September 24, 2003 - Today we put both out in the cage with door shut. We are going to try to get Ping's weight up a little and get Pong a little exercise and accustomed to being outside without his mama.
September 27, 2003 - We left the door open and Ping and Pong have found a hole into the crawl space under the house. In any event they are both looking healthy and none the worse for wear.
October 3, 2003 - We found Ping in the cage looking for food. Thay have the most absurd way of running and then spinning around to open their jaws and hiss at you. We can't figure out why Ping and Pong are always seen in the daylight.
October 20, 2003 - Ping and Pong are back... together. Last night they came (or were brought) in for pictures, which will be developed in about a week.
|Litter #8 - The Shinnston Five (2003) - (no pictures)|
September 24, 2003 - We got the five possums that a family from Shinnston have been raising for the last 7 weeks. They wanted us to take them in July but we had our hands full, so they took on the task themselves and did a fine job. They are all doing great. They will be released in about a week after they get 'transitionalized' to the outdoors.
|Litter #9 - The Gilmer Pair (2003) - pictures|
September 24, 2003 - We got two Gilmer County possums today, very solid, stout and firm, a boy and a girl. All of the people that contributed to their care did a very good job. They are older than the Shinnston possums and will be released sooner, in a couple of days, after they get used to the smell of the place.
September 29, 2003 - I have not seen is the Gilmer county male since release. The Gilmer county female has not been in the cage three mornings now. I'm sure they are all fine. Actually, the ones that are not hanging so close are probably developing the better habits.
September 25, 2003 - Out back is literally crawling with possums. All current litters are officially released now. Several times Ping, Pong and Little Miss have popped their heads out from under the porch. Shinnston Red and Three Dot have been frequenting the cage, Blue, Green and Purple were seen a couple times but not last night. The Gilmer county female is sleeping in the bag in the outdoor cage and comes in for pets, the male was seen a couple nights ago at the bowl, then not.
September 28, 2003 - Our back yard is STILL crawling with possums. Ping and Pong come and go. Little Miss came in for pictures last night then left. We saw Three Dot a couple nights ago. The Gilmer county female was sleeping in the outdoor cage regularly for a while, but the cage has been empty the last two mornings. Possums are regularly seen in the peach tree and holly tree, but who can tell who they are. We check for tail dots but the colors are all worn off by now. They have excellent balance and sit way out at the end of limbs only as thick as a pencil, toes wrapped tight and counterbalanced by their tails. They seem to have no inclination to come down and say 'HI'. We have been keeping the bowls filled with food. Just to let them know it is there if they need it. The bowls were still part full this morning. 2003 was a good summer for possums.
September 29, 2003 - I just took pictures of Red (or Purple) from LITTER #5 (Lumberport). She was out in the cage eating. There was an even bigger possum in the cage that took off when I aimed the flashlight out there. It might have been Blue or Green or Yellow, who knows. I suppose that we should just leave them alone but it is so cool to be able to talk a possum into getting up on your shoulder. Bad me.
There are several other possums coming and going. I can't tell who anyone is but the fact that there are so many still running around is very encouraging.
October 3, 2003 - We just tore the garden down and got some lastling string beans, the rest of the peppers and some miniature watermelons last night before the frost. It got down to 25 degrees last night. The possums got out of the house just in time to get their winter coats. If we had waited any longer they would have been very, very cold. It was literally raining nuts under the black walnut tree and we got about a bushel which we smashed on the porch to get the husks off.
October 15, 2003 - Last night I went out to see if anyone was in the cage eating expecting to see maybe a little one like Ping or Little Miss, but found a big, big male. He stopped moving and stood there very still and looked at me, sort of sideways. No drooling or snarling, he just stopped moving. There was no food in the cage so I went in and got some. By then he figured I was not there to hurt him and accepted my gift. I carefully gave him a couple pets which he didn't seem to mind and found under the thick fur a strong, sturdy set of shoulders. He felt very solid. He must be getting a lot of exercise climbing trees. His feet were very large. His face was full and square, with heavy brows like Pete had.
We figure it was Yellow, Blue, Black or Green from the Lumberport Six. He is definitely not over a year old. We gave him a little piece of cheese which he ate quickly. When he started to sniff my fingers for more cheese I thought it best to remove said fingers from cage. This one, at least, has done well. We hope the others are, too.
October 18, 2003 - Last night a large female was in the cage. She was not very happy about having her dinner disturbed but she did not run and eventually got her face back into the cat food bowl while I scratched her back.
December 21, 2003 - There have been two possums (we think one male and one female) in the cage for cat food each night, religeously. The male sits on the top shelf, the female sits on the second shelf down. We put terry cloth towels in for them to sit on as the cage floors and shelves are open mesh wire. There is a tarp over the whole cage to keep wind and lights out. We think they appreciate the lengths to which we have gone to make their meals pleasant, even though they seem to have a little trouble expressing it. The male will condone pets and gifts of goodies after a warmup period, the female will accept nothing by hand and warns us off, or at least sits very still and drools and hopes we go away soon. We marvel how they walk on bare feet in this miserable cold. Oh, to be a possum from Louisiana. That's it for 2003.
|Litter #10 - The Gore Five (2004) - pictures|
Last spring we got five more from a lady from Gore, W.Va. We were too busy to keep this documentary up, but we add these pictures for your enjoyment. They stayed about two months and went on their merry way.
August 7, 2005 - For those of you who keep checking back for news... In 2005 we did not take in any orphans. We are keeping this site up though, recently breaking it up into tabbed pages.
If anything new happens, you'll find out about it here.
June 9, 2007 - Still no new news.
Good bye and good luck!
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