I had to stop working on my ditch because I wrecked the upper right quadrant of my body with too enthusiastic ditch digging. Apparently, going from winter sloth to sustained hard labor is a bad idea? Even worse, I spent my convalescence watching too much news and making face masks. I'd rather dig ditches than sew. I'm pretty sure the mask shortage is a Republican plot to domesticate me. Okay, I'll do it, but that doesn't mean I have to do it with grace -- though I got better at it and was happy to give the masks to some friends.
I finally felt better enough to attack the ditch again and started stalking out to the back 80 when I was stopped in my tracks by a varmint who hissed at me with all 50 of his needle sharp teeth exposed. A mole? A shrew? Hit it with the hoe! Except I never actually kill varmints. I just vociferously complain about them. I looked closer. 'Possum baby. Aw, he went from kind of ugly varmint to absolutely adorable in a second. Don't question the logic of this. It just is.
|The grass gives you an idea of size but I actually measured for the vet.|
This guy's body (not counting tail) is about 4" long.
When you find wild babies, the first rule is to leave them alone so they can reunite with their mothers. I went to my ditch and tried to use some restraint in my digging. I stopped myself from overdoing it and checked on the baby. Still in the same place. No longer snarling or hissing. I made calls to find an animal rescue that's still open during our Covid lockdown. Finally, someone reluctantly answered. She ordered me to leave the baby alone. I went back to my ditch. I took a break and googled opossum orphans. I tried to get the baby to lap water from an eye dropper. He was not happy. I reassured him that one way or another he just had to stick it out for the day. I'd bring him inside that evening if all else failed, etc. He seemed content enough.
The temperature dropped and it started to sprinkle. My reluctant advisor called and told me to check on my baby. It was gone. I looked around and exclaimed, "It's a murder scene!" Mama opossum and 3 of her babies were dead in the midst of trampling deer tracks, but mama's belly was wiggling with baby feet sticking out. You see, Australia isn't the only place with marsupials. Opossums are America's kangaroos. Sort of. They have a pouch like kangaroos at any rate and the babies crawled in there to suck at the soured milk and warm each other up. Reluctant Advisor advised me to pull them out and put them in a box. Ew. I got latex gloves and did my duty, but the babies held on with their clever little hands with opposable thumbs. I found a couple more babies hanging onto Mama by her neck. They looked pretty cold and weak, but still living.
My advisor told me how to care for my babies and my heart fell when I learned I had to feed them every 2 hours. I went through that with a puppy once. It's miserable, but I resigned myself to the task when at the last moment a rehabbing vet agreed to foster my babies. Halleluiah! She even seemed happy when I asked her to give them back once they're big enough to survive in the wild. You can see her Facebook page with cute baby animals here. So, I'm hoping my babies survive and am looking forward to a summer with opossums. They're nocturnal though so I'm not sure I'll ever see them again once they're back in the wild.
|4 babies really glad to be in a warm box.|
My apologies for infrequent, inconsistent posts. The state of the world has me turned upside down and inside out. I'm hoping everyone is well and finding creative things to do while the plague blows over us. I made the art above for Inktober's "red" with the best intentions of posting. It's my take on the corona virus. I liked it better in red but decided to make it yellow and pretend I'm in sync with everyone else.