Possums on my porch.

Yeah I know this isn't a cat story but it's a wildlife one instead. Lynn was raising 4 orphaned possums in the wildlife room. Now possums are not the ... how shall I phrase it ...... OK possums are not the most fragrant of animals. So, these possums were too small to be released by the time the cold weather arrived so I stupidly volunteered to foster them until they were able to fend for themselves. It'll only be for few weeks Lynn said. OK, I can do that said I in all ignorance. The possums were bundled into a large cat carrier brought home one Sunday in late October. As it was below freezing at night we decided to ease the transition to the cold Pennsylvania nights by keeping them in our sunroom for a couple of days. We erected the wire fold-up exercise pen in the sunroom and added the special top for it as possums are renowned climbers. We put newspaper on the tiled floor and placed the cat carrier in the pen gave them food and water, turned the light out and left. A couple of hours later I went in to make sure everything was OK and there was a possum hanging from a branch on a ficus tree. If a possum could speak he would have been saying "Wheeeeeeee! Look at me, look at me". My reaction to this  was "How the %$*& did you get out you little *&^%$#*!" I grabbed him and put him back and tied wire around the pen top which was where I thought he had escaped from. Wrong, a few minutes later he was out again. The top of the pen had a slightly wider mesh than the bottom. We watched the little &^%& squeeze out through the bars. They spent the night in the cat carrier! Next day I went and got the cage than Lynn had been using. After a couple of days we decided it was warm enough to put them outside. I put an old carpet on the top of the cage along with a tarp  to keep them dry and to keep them warm we cut up an old fleece blanket. I used to feed them night and morning and when I was sure they couldn't get out of the exercise pen I put them in there to give them more room.

The possums were fed on a diet of cat food, bananas, apples and any suitable left overs. They were particularly fond of spaghetti so we named them Vito, Guido, Luigi and Maria. We weren't sure what gender they were but decided that at least one must be a female. At least once a week they were fed chicken nuggets which I had to take care not to microwave too long because they would gulp them down in an instant. One evening I left my finger behind and Vito mistook it for a banana, I can say quite confidently that possums have a real mouthful of very sharp teeth. In mid December I fed them and left the pen gate open because they were big enough to be released. I continued to leave food for them in case they were struggling to adjust to the big wide world out there. They get around quite well, the wife herded one up the drive in the car the other night, I just hope he looks both ways when crossing the lane. They compete with the outside cats very well, the biggest farm cat we call Biggy Boy for obvious reasons (not for much longer, but don't let him hear that) was amazed one night when Vito just walked up and took a chicken nugget out from under his nose. We have a small igloo on the front porch with a heated pad inside for the cats, the possums decided to take it over and moved in for a while.


A footnote to this story. In the following spring early one morning we looked out onto the back yard an there was one of the possums walking down the hill with 7 baby possums hanging on it's back!