It appears the word has gotten out that I like animals. I went out to the garage last night to get more wood for the stove and there on Steve the cat's bed an opossum was curled up. Whoa! I've only encountered one up close once before and while it was little compared to this guy, it snarled ferociously (ever see an opossum snarl? They have very long jaws with many very sharp and pointy teeth - all the better for eating a fresh chicken dinner). So while Steve was winding himself around my ankles, perfectly calm and purring, the opossum and I just stood there and stared at each other. I believe he was quite large by opossum standards, and, well, kind of cute/handsome. The longer we looked each other in the eye, the more I realized I was not going to be able to dispatch him from this world. Sigh. Instead I went back in the house to get the camera, hoping he'd stay long enough for me to get a picture of him. When I came back out, here's what I saw...
Steve was in the process of bedding down with the new guest. Huh. Perhaps Mr. Opossum was invited? I can almost picture it - Steve meets Mr. O in the woods. Mr. O is worried about what he'll do for shelter for the winter. Steve, being the friendly and sociable sort, invites him to his home. After all, he once needed a place to stay and was made welcome, why couldn't Mr. O stay too? Plenty of room, plenty of food and water, nice soft beds.
Hospitality be damned. I decided to see if I could chase him out. I clapped my hands and made a lot of noise. It seemed to be working as he headed towards the propped-open garage door. At the last minute, he doubled back and came back up the other side of the wood pile. Clearly he wanted to stay. Or, perhaps he was confused or disoriented by the bright lights and all my noise. Deciding to go back in the house, I figured that Mr. O would take his leave now that he realized that this was a human dwelling and perhaps not the best place for wild animals, no matter what Steve said. I gave it an hour and went back out.
Sigh. Now Mr. O was bedded down and actually sleeping on the woodpile. Back in the house to think. What if he had rabies? I couldn't put myself at risk by allowing this to continue. Armed with a broom, I went back out and opened up the garage door the whole way. Pushing as gently as I could, I urged him towards the door. Finally deciding to show me his teeth, he went out only because he really had no other choice, because he sure didn't want to go. Closing the door completely for the first time since Steve came, I decided he could be locked in at night until a cat door could be installed.
Hopefully he won't show all his woodland friends how to use it.