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The Opossum...

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posted on Feb, 25 2017 @ 11:14 AM

I've been having a visitor for about 2 weeks now out by my place. A bold little animal, coming right up to my steps and not in a big hurry to leave when a human comes into view. Talking with my dad, he said that possums carry diseases and I shouldn't feed or acknowledge him. That he may have mange or rabies and that is why he doesn't care if I'm around or not.

He doesn't look to be dangerous, doesn't seem to be doing anything more than what any other animal does...searching for food and shelter. But, I wanted to make sure I knew a bit about them before I started to befriend the little guy. And since I was looking anyways, I thought I might as well share what I found...

So, I present to you...the Opossum.

Opossum or possum?

Now a days, the little marsupial is mostly referred to as "possum". But their original designation was opossum. What happened to the "O" and why was it there in the first place?

In 1608, Capt. John Smith coined the word opossum from the word "opassum," the Algonquian term meaning "white animal." In his notes, the captain wrote: "An Opassom hath an head like a Swine, and a taile like a Rat, and is of the bignes of a Cat. Under her belly she hath a bagge, wherein shee lodgeth, carrieth, and sucketh her young."
No one is quite sure how the opossum’s “o” was dropped, but it appeared in print as "possum" as early as 1613, and remains the colloquial term in many regions of the country...

Another explanation that I found was that we adopted the name from the Australian version of the marsupial. The American opossum is slightly different than the Australian possum. Opossum is the correct terminology for the USA. Possum is correct for Australian one. But I guess we decided to just drop the "o" and group the two under the same heading.

Possum Symbolism:
Proper use of deception
Use of appearances
Guidance to uncovering talent, psychic or physical
Gaining Wisdom

In Dreams:
To dream of an Opossum signifies a person or situation in your life where someone or something is being deceptive and not coming from a place of truth and integrity.

Crossing your path:
You are being asked to lay low and blend into the fabric of your surroundings. Things are not entirely what they appear to be at this time so simply say nothing and do nothing. Allow yourself the space and time to see things for what they really are.

Animal Totem:
You are highly intelligent and prefer to use your brains and your wits as opposed to your physical strength to get what you desire. You understand the use of diversion and strategy in all situations. You have a habit of coming out of nowhere to step into successful situations. Most people never see you coming until it’s far too late and you have won the game...

Some Facts:

The only animal in the world that has perfected the "death scene". Yep, they should win a Grammy for their performance. But, it really isn't a performance...the possum actually do feint. And when they feint, they secrete a smelly substance that mimics the smell of death. I guess they have a ton of anxiety when they encounter a possible enemy. And, if all their other defenses fail, some of them get so scared, they pass out. But you can't really blame them...not like we all haven't "been there" at some point in our lives.

Opossums do/do not carry rabies or other diseases. This has some conflicting information written about it. Some websites say they don't at all, some websites say they are very unlikely to. Many people think they do. The reason that was given for why they don't is because they have one of the lowest body temperatures of any mammal. The truth is unclear about this. I would say they maybe are less likely to have rabies than other animals.

They are immune/mostly immune to rattlesnake venom, and other poisonous snakes. They will kill and eat a snake when one crosses their path. And grubs, and insects, and small rodents...and anything they can find in your garbage can or the food you leave out for your animals. Scavengers is what they are...and they don't waste one bit of the food they find. I wasn't aware that they had high calcium needs. Not only do they eat the rodents, but they eat their skeletons as well.

With their opposable thumbs on their feet, and prehensile tails they can hold onto and hang from tree limbs and things for a bit. But they aren't sleeping upside down from a tree at night. Primarily they use these skills for climbing and eating. They also have been observed using their tails to carry bundles of grass and other materials.

The rest most people probably know. The male possum is called Jack, the female called Jill and the babies are called joeys. They aren't rodents. They carry around their young in a pouch much like a kangaroo. Nocturnal animals...they sleep during the day and scavenge at night. Their eyes are not just black pupils. The pupils are always dilated enough so you can't see the iris like you do in other animals (because of their nocturnal nature maybe).

They will live under porches and in crawl spaces of your house, but mostly keep to themselves. They don't make their own nests, the use abandoned ones. And apparently, they do not "meow" like a cat when frightened. Although, the one I've been seeing did make a noise and it certainly sounded like a cat meowing. I guess they "hiss" instead. Whatever the case..they make a noise when they are frightened.

And finally, the question all of you have been wondering about..

Why the Possums Tale is Bare

The Possum used to have a long, bushy tail, and was so proud of it that he combed it out every morning and sang about it at the dance, until the Rabbit, who had had no tail since the Bear pulled it out, became very jealous and made up his mind to play the Possum a trick...

As always, thanks for reading...

edit on 25-2-2017 by blend57 because: added another pic..

posted on Feb, 25 2017 @ 01:50 PM
Great little story you have shared with us! I have a opossum that I'm pretty sure lives under my house. I have also seen him head up into the trees in the morning, so not sure he if lives up there or not. If not he does stays very near. I call him "Fat Frank." He isn't afraid of me at all. Not that I have really tried to befriend him or anything, but we have a mutual understanding of staying out of each others way I guess. He comes through every night and helps himself to the duck food and I usually throw out the cat food my cats have deemed not up to their standards for the day.

I drive at night for a living and it kind of makes me sad how many opossums I see as road kill.
I guess it is kind of like giving the ugly duckling a chance to just be. I think it is just their appearance that put people off on them. Not exactly something you'd want to cuddle.

I'm surprised one of their benefits of having them around you didn't mention is the fact of how many mosquitoes they can consume for you. Being as I am in the country of mid Florida that it a big plus for me and Fat Frank!

You put all this work into your post, I thought it deserved someone to chime in at least. Good little post.

posted on Feb, 25 2017 @ 02:52 PM
I'd give Tyler a call. He might be able to help.

posted on Feb, 25 2017 @ 03:15 PM
a reply to: blend57

As always Blend, thank you. ATS is better because of you.
(still missing your poetry...*wink*)

Years ago when I lived in Florida a woman had hit a possum in front of where I was staying at the time (folks drive really really fast there where the roads are flat and straight), the babies flew everywhere...anyway, she ran up to the door in a panic (animal lover like myself).

We went to the road and found three babies alive. I took them in and kept them in a shoebox for...maybe three or four days...feeding them some stuff (can't remember what) from the feed store. My gosh they were the ugliest little things I had ever seen!

None survived. I was heartbroken. I've blamed myself all of this time and now, I'll just blame the rabbit!

posted on Feb, 25 2017 @ 04:58 PM
Maybe I'm a weirdo but I think they're cute. As far as I know they don't live this far north. But with the mosquitoes, blackflies, mice, moles, voles and other critters, we could use a little help.

posted on Feb, 25 2017 @ 05:31 PM
a reply to: blend57

Adorable little critters, i have them all around my house...

they come up to the window for a look inside now and again... and they love cat food...

They look pretty fearsome but they're really not vicious... unless you piss one off or get between its babies...


edit on 25-2-2017 by Akragon because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 25 2017 @ 06:09 PM
Opossums are very nearsighted and literally DO NOT see cars coming at them on the road.
Sadly most people don't know this so it's a bloodbath out there.

I've had my share come around and never have I had one get uppity. Came home from work one night and was letting the cats in, one cat, two cats and HEY!! You're not a cat!! One silly opossum was under the porch chair with his/her head in the porch corner. They all seemed to know each other as well.

Keep telling the cats they can't have one as a pet cause for one, pets can't have pets an secondly it'll get squished on the road eventually. Sadly my cats don't listen and we've been thru numerous Opossums over the years.

posted on Feb, 25 2017 @ 10:04 PM

Yep..I read that they liked to eat cat food. They have a set of 50 sharp teeth that they will show to you, the first line of defense. And of course the hissing. But if you watch, mostly they seem to just keep going about their business, hoping you won't notice


I think the babies are really cute, but the adults...not so The one that keeps coming around my house is an adult, and he is cute cuz he waddles when he walks and just has that certain "yeah, so what, your're a big deal.I have opposable thumbs too.." kinda look to him.


I didn't know they ate mosquitoes. Well, all the reading I did, it just mentioned insects, grubs, basically whatever they thought was edible. Most of the articles said that they were very good for the environment. I've never read about an animal that didn't help out the environment in some way though...seems like they always give back what they take in some way, shape, or form.

Those were the last pics I had ...well, accept for this one:

A picture of a possums foot I believe....(that's what the caption says anyways) Kind of weird how similar to our hands they are..

Anyhow, thanks everyone for taking the time to read through the thread. And for adding additional information and/or thoughts. Can't wait to see if I can befriend the one that keeps showing up around my house...

Thanks again,

posted on Feb, 25 2017 @ 10:07 PM
My folks have one very big, very old, very obese fellow who is so fat he literally can't run more than a dozen steps or so before he has to stop and catch his opossum breath. Then he'll run another dozen steps. Honestly, this guy's belly is so rotund it pretty much drags the ground.

It's been getting fat poaching off the cat's plate.

My folks shoot all the raccoons that come around. They don't have much charity after a big boar 'coon broke into the attic and caused $25,000 roof replacement. But they don't have the heart to shoot the opossums.

posted on Feb, 26 2017 @ 12:28 PM
This guy used to hang out with me every afternoon.
I'd give him some food scraps and a little beer and he seemed to be pretty happy with that arrangement.

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