Jonas and I live in a neighborhood where opossum sightings are not rare. Though the consensus amongst neighbors is mixed, we have a special affection for them. I'm not sure how it started, but putting out a little "treat for Possie" has become something that we like to do when we find ourselves in the kitchen at the same time, or if we have leftover food we know we won't eat. Lately, however, it has become more of a ritual, and our treats have now become meals......
tonight's menu: spaghetti with vegan sausage, split chick peas, and a side of mandarin oranges in expired vegan creamer (almond/cashew cream)
Tonight, for example, Jonas purposefully didn't scarf down all of his pasta because he wanted our friend opossum to have a satisfying meal. We have done a bit of research on these unique animals and have discovered many interesting facts. The more we learn, the more we love them. Here are a few:
They are the only native North American Marsupial.
They have an amazing immune system and are resistant to rabies.
Their diet is very diverse - Jonas jokes that he wants to have a t-shirt that says 10% - because opossums eat about 10% of everything! They eat: insects, berries, snails, rodents, over-ripe fruit, grasses, leaves, carrion, and occasionally snakes, ground eggs, corn, and other vegetables....
Here is a breakdown of the contents of a wild opossum's stomach analysed in a study done in 1980 (see more at http://www.opossum.org/diet.htm)
mammals 27%, leaf litter 11%, fruits/seed/bulbs etc. 10%, gastropods 10%, garbage 9%, earthworms 9%, pet food 9%, grass/ green leaves 8%, insects 3%, birds 3%, misc. animal tissue 1%
The sad part is that they are also one of the shortest living mammals for its size (about 2-4yrs). They are often killed by humans, their cars, owls, dogs, cats, and other larger wildlife. Even in captivity the longest living opossum is about 4yrs.
We have been enjoying Possie's visits, and she (well we think its a she) seems to be getting more comfortable on the porch and with us watching her through the back door. She pretty regularly comes by at 8pm, starts the meal, then comes back to finish it at various times in the night.