Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oh, Possum....

This morning, 30 seconds away from needing to walk out the door and head to work, Bobby came into the kitchen, wide-eyed and momentarily speechless. Then, he said...

"There's a...'possum...laying in front of the couch in the living room."

I don't remember what I said. It doesn't matter, really.

I looked around the corner and peeked into the living room, where, sure enough, was an opossum laying on its side in front of the couch.

Yes, the floor needs to be vacuumed.
(As though THAT'S the biggest issue with this photo.)
The sticks Royal keeps bringing inside to chew on make
keeping the carpet clean a losing battle.
Oh, well. We (clearly) have bigger problems.
Was it dead? Was it "playing 'possum"? Who could say?! (You never can tell with 'possums.)

The other question on our mind...how the heck did it get inside? And, when?

The point of entrance, we're thinking, was Royal's doggy-door. And our suspicion, mortifying though it is, is that the intruder came inside...last night. As in, while-we-were-still-awake, last night. The interior laundry room door which leads to the doggy-door is closed before we go to bed, and so our little guest couldn't have come inside after that. Which unfortunately means that last night while I fell asleep watching t.v. on the couch in the other living room, waiting for Bobby to get home, there was a 4-legged, hairy critter with a tail (that wasn't Royal) meandering through the house. Ewwww. 

We can't even blame Royal. Truly, I'm not sure he was even involved. If you've met Royal, you'll likely agree that if he knew about the opossum's existence, the likelihood of it hanging out in the house and not causing a stir is slim to none. I just really think I would've been aware of any 'possum vs. dog interaction going on...in the next room. But, who knows? (If anything, I'd rather thank the dog. Even if he did bring the 'possum inside or play with it somehow, there was no obvious chase or damage to furniture, and no bloody mess. Let's face it, it probably could've been way worse.)

Anyway, back to this morning's predicament. Sure, the thing looked harmless enough, motionless and sleeping (?) as it was. But, if it was just "playing 'possum", would it bite when jostled? Jump? Run around the house? What does one DO in that situation?!

My first suggestion was to shut all the interior doors in the house and let Royal back inside. Surely he would bother the opossum enough to allow us to figure out whether it was alive or not. Brilliant, right? (Okay, I'm not proud of my thought process...but it was the best I could do given the circumstance. It seemed appropriate.)

Bobby, using his brain a bit more than I, pointed out that the 'possum could bite Royal, might be rabid, etc., and Royal needed to stay outside. (See? Smart in a crisis. I love him.) So, while I maintained a safe distance from my position on top of the kitchen island, Bobby heroically placed a large plastic bin over the critter. The thought was that the 'possum would either wake up and just walk out the door underneath the bin...or have to be scooted across the carpet.

Of course, the latter was what happened. The biggest problem was getting the non-moving 'possum up over the door trim by the front door. Bobby used a broom, and swept the little guy off the porch. Gross.

We're pretty sure the thing is dead. He seemed pretty stiff, and although he is a nocturnal creature and likely traumatized, the fact that he's been lying in the same spot on the cold grass for the past two hours getting snow-covered seems to suggest that he's a goner. But, only time will tell, I suppose, if he decides to get up and walk away. Ugh, whatever.

Needless to say, I felt a strong need to clean this morning. I shampooed the carpet (you know, since an opossum was laying on it...and was then scooted across it), and then Royal got a bath. Mark my words, the disinfecting has only begun.

It was a funny and obviously surprising way to start the day, and most certainly the strangest situation in home ownership we've experienced thus far. But, most of all, Bobby is my hero for bravely playing exterminator this morning...in his business suit. What a guy.


  1. It's not dead!!

    "When threatened or harmed, they will "play possum", mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. This physiological response is involuntary (like fainting), rather than a conscious act. In the case of baby opossums, however, the brain does not always react this way at the appropriate moment, and therefore they often fail to "play dead" when threatened. When "playing possum", the animal's lips are drawn back, the teeth are bared, saliva foams around the mouth, the eyes, close or half-close, and a foul-smelling fluid is secreted from the anal glands. Their stiff, curled form can be prodded, turned over, and even carried away without reaction[citation needed]. The animal will typically regain consciousness after a period of between 40 minutes and 4 hours, a process which begins with slight twitchings of the ears."

  2. Thank u for this story & informational blog! I now know what to do & not do if this happens to me!