Some Belated Praise for Opossums
Why Do People Fear Opossums?
You need to know that opossums, also known as possums, are marsupial mammals of the order Didelphimorphia. The largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, it comprises 103 or more species in 19 genera. Opossums originated in South America and entered North America in the Great American Interchange following the connection of the two continents. Their non-specialized biology, flexible diet, and reproductive habits make them successful colonizers and survivors in diverse locations and conditions.
I had to include the scientific view of possums in order to please the scientifically-minded members of the free-hearted citizens of America. You might say that I am an all-around, diplomatic writer to the bone and proud of it. Hey, I will even go on record right now in stating that I do not know of anyone who loves possums more than myself.
Oh, sure. There are "those" in our land who do not approve of the lowly possum. For those individuals, I feel compassionate toward them. To their possum indifference, I say, give these little guys a fair shake. Live and let live. We could all take a lesson from the possum—for they will only defend themselves if we, the members of mankind choose to provoke the possum for any given reason. People who would provoke a humble possum for no reason needs some form of sensitivity training.
Are Opossums Not as Lovable as Other Species?
Many sane-minded Americans are guilty of finding opossums repulsive, or disgusting—down-right outcasts of the animal kingdom. Why, I do not know. But this I do know: possums, as I call them, are as cute as any fawn born to a lovely doe in the forest. I said it and stand by it. I love opossums and I hope that by publishing this article, those same people I said were treating opossums with such disrespect will have a change of heart.
I am serious. Why do we love one animal and despise another? If you want a dose of harsh truth, I would call this a bit of animal bigotry. What else would you call it? Pretty much the way that we treat those souls of another color or national origin. But the rub is, we will attend anti-bigotry rallies, raise monies to fight racial bigotry, but when it comes to animal bigotry, we turn a deaf ear and close a blinded eye.
This is not right by any standard. Opossums have as much right to live a fulfilled life as any of us who walk around on two legs and call ourselves the Top of The Food Chain. Yeah. That makes us proud enough to justify our dislike for the lowly opossum.
Great Names for Opossums
Rory, Rowdy, Randy, Paul or Paulette depending on the gender, Perry, Prince, Duke.
Dawson, Pecos Possum (if you live in or near Sante Fe, New Mexico). And to those diehard Americans, "Bill" makes a great name for possums.
A few Facts About Opossums
- Opossums when treated with respect will go about their business and not be of any harm to you or your property.
- Opossums cannot help the way that God created them no more than we can help the way that we look, so this should put a damper on our cold hearted feelings about opossums.
- Paul Henning, the gifted producer of The Beverly Hillbillies, helped Irene "Granny" Clampett to make the humble opossum famous in its own right. Bravo, Paul Henning!
- Opossums can and will defend themselves if we foolish humans provoke them and their bites, I am told, can be quite painful.
- Opossums are far from ignorant. An opossum being chased by hunting dogs will many times drop to the ground and play dead confusing the dogs and when the dogs have grown weary of barking at the "dead" possum, they will give up the chase and leave the intelligent opossum be.
- Opossums can be raised with the same love and care that is given to the common housecat or dog. In short, opossums do have feelings.
- I am reluctant about sharing this fact with you. In our country's pioneer days, many people would hunt the opossum and have him for their dinner and not in the context of "dinner guest."
FAQs About Opossums
Q: Is it true that opossums love to eat persimmons?
A: True. But only after the first frost of the season hits the persimmons turning them from a bitter fruit to a super-sweet delicacy.
Q: Is it recommended to put a leash on your pet possum to take him for a walk?
A: Don't be ridiculous. Opossums are not easily trained into being lap possums, so trying to attach a leash to their necks would only be asking for problems for you, not the opossum.
Q: Is it a problem to give your opossum a weekly bath?
A: I would not recommend bathing your opossum on a weekly basis unless you have known the opossum for at least five years. Opossums have a sharp sense of morality.
The opossum like a cute bunny rabbit deserves to lead a happy live pursuing what opossums pursue mostly at night. I for one am proud to stand up and advertise my support for the rights of opossums everywhere.
So the next time you cross paths with an opossum, smile and say, "Hello, Mr. Opossum, I hope that you have a safe and happy day."
Good night, Columbia, S.C.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
I love opossums as much as my ferrets of which I’ve had many since 1980. Do you have any advice for keeping one as a pet? I know they can be dangerous and have razor-sharp teeth.
No. Possums are outdoor animals. When they are babies, you might have them for a while, but they are very dangerous.
© 2017 Kenneth Avery