October 21, 2019

Pooper 'Possum

Okay, this is a new one on us. We have plenty of wildlife around, which means frequent sightings if not frequent evidence that we're sharing our homestead with them. We are concerned only with anything that threatens our livestock or garden and so take precautions to protect both. Dan keeps the live animal trap set most of the time, although it isn't uncommon to have the bait disappear leaving the trap otherwise untripped! Obviously, our varmints are on to us.

During evening chores not long ago, I checked the bucks' hay feeder. I was surprised to find it largely uneaten, and reached in to fluff the contents a bit. What an unpleasant surprise to put my hand into a pile of poop! Yuck! That explained why the boys hadn't eaten it. I had to throw out a good bit (to me that means spreading it out on bare soil in the pasture) and go get more.

Wellsir, for the next several nights I found the same thing when I went for evening hay check. Why in the world would any critter prefer pooping in hay instead of fertilizing the ground the way nature intended???

We surmised 'possum, and Dan put out the live animal trap. No joy. I decided to stop using the hay feeder for awhile and emptied it out. I used the hay net instead. That worked somewhat, but instead of pooping in the hay, the dern critter started pooping where the boys made their beds. Grrrr! 

I cleaned out the buck shelter and moved the boys back to their little log barn. Dan moved the live trap back there as well. The next day I found a pile of poop on top of the hay in that feeder! About the time we were conceding defeat, lo and behold, he fell for peanut butter as bait!

There's a lot going around the internet about leaving these cute little critters alone because the eat insects and ticks. Yeah, well, they also eat chickens. They maul their victims and gut them by tearing into the abdomen. We've lost a number of chickens this way.

Dan has a place for rehoming his wildlife catches, so this little guy was relocated there too. It's part of a large county park, pretty isolated, and with a stream and plenty of shrubs and ground cover. Who knows? His mom and dad may already be there - sisters, brothers, and cousins too.

Thankfully, that solved the pooping in the hay problem. Hopefully, he won't find his way back.

Pooper 'Possum © October 2019


Gorges Smythe said...

Back when I trapped many years ago, I skinned and sold them the same as any other fur. Every species need thinned a little bit or things get out of hand.

Michelle said...

Possums can spread EPM (a NASTY protozoa that infects horses) in their poop, so that would have been a dead possum for pooping in OUR hay!

Cockeyed Jo said...

My critters poop enough for me to get mt hand and shoes. Another animal not that we don't have enough wild critters around here pooping in the orchard we do! They leave their scat trails all over our property, but to ;eave their scat in our pens and paddocks too, they'd have to go. They become a deadly nuisance to ALL livestock including humans. I admire your catch and release attitude. I'd have shot it and used it for a maggot farm for the chickens.

Ed said...

Opossums give me the willies. I think it is because of their reptilian jaw look. We also have a relocation spot on our farm where over the years we have probably relocated dozens of opossums and probably hundreds of raccoons. We get more of the latter due to our sweetcorn patch. The opossums we get raiding the food bowls of our dogs and cats. We do get the occasional cat but we "catch and release" them.

Mama Pea said...

Because of your respect for all of nature's critters, you're to be commended for your "catch and release" program. A couple of years ago we had an invasion of our native red squirrels. The cute, little things decided to wreak havoc in a sundry of ways. We trapped and took them about five miles away into an unpopulated woods area. At first we made 2-3 trips a day but soon realized we weren't winning the war as it seemed the pesky varmints were hitchhiking their way right back to our property. Option #2 for getting rid of them was put into place.

Wonder why your oppossum chose to leave his calling cards in the goats' hay??

Leigh said...

Gorges, I agree, thinning is necessary and really, it's something that nature does and not often kindly. Right now we seem to have this year's spring crop!

Michelle, I did not know that. Busts the statement that opossums don't carry disease.

Jo, not all of them are catch and release. And actually, 'possum meat is one of the best small game eating out there!

Ed, that's why we don't leave catfood outdoors (!) But there's plenty of dropped chicken scratch and grain, also goat chow. They seem to think this is 'possum heave. :)

Mama Pea, what that 'possum was thinking will always be a mystery!

We've often wondered if any of the critters Dan rehomes find their way back. I know people think it's more humane, but really it isn't necessarily. They are taken to a strange place where they don't know where to find food, shelter, or water. They don't know where the safe places are nor the dangerous ones. Human kindness may not be as kind as we like to think. OTOH, Dan doesn't like to kill them unless we're going to eat them. Hence, the live animal trap.

Goatldi said...

Simply love the post title😂

I am a bit weary of the “Save The Possum “ champaign . Possum are contrary to the the now popular belief are viscous , evasive (as are most wild creatures ) and mean. They share as Michelle said unwanted and dangerous gifts.

And last but not least those teeth . Possums leave huge ripping holes in their pry or perceived enemy. The last clinic I worked in had multiple cats that were suffering from large wounds extremely prone to infection and due to the shredding ability leave wounds that often need to be debrided extensively to close. Painful to cat and the owners pocketbook.

Check out the images presented in the link


Glad you were able to catch the critter and relocate to an appropriate area with no damage to any of your stock.

Pioneer Woman at Heart said...

Geeze, glad you caught the critter. I have a feeling we'll find one living in the barn ruble when we go to cut more barn beams.

Rain said...

Hi Leigh :) They are cute, but my gosh...let's get real. Anything threatening the livestock needs to GO - whichever way a person chooses is okay with me. Nice job on re-homing the little critter. Yeah, a handful of poop isn't a nice way to start your day lol...I recently experienced that with a faulty poop bag...ick! :) I read your "Wellsir" out loud and laughed my butt off...I don't know why but that word always makes me laugh...probably because I've heard Jerry Seinfeld say it in jest. :) Thanks for the giggle.

Sam I Am...... said...

You could write a children's book about that little adventure! Don't forget....wash your hands.... we're having popcorn later! LOL!

Quinn said...

When I was in college - late 1980s - one of my biology professors was working on a book with one of HER former biology professors. The only thing I remember about it was that she was working on a chapter that included data showing that possums' range had expanded northward as a result of climate change. About that time I saw my first possum here - climbing up a hemlock branch, spotlighted in the beam of my flashlight. I had thought I would find a raccoon, not a possum! Quite startling. But then, none of us looks our best when surprised, in the beam of a flashlight.

Leigh said...

Kristina, I should mention that Dan caught another one this morning! You may find one too; now's the time they're looking for cozy winter quarters!

Rain, for awhile we didn't think we'd catch the little guy and that was frustrating. Such a relief to no longer have this problem!

Sam, I couldn't wash them hard or long enough, lol. I used to think I might do a volume two of Critter Tales. This is the kind of story that would fit well in that book. :)

Quinn, their range is quite extensive. From Central America all the way up to Michigan and Maine. They're cute, but not the kind of critters anyone should want for neighbors!

Leigh said...

Goatldi, oh those teeth! I think I read somewhere that they have 50(?) teeth! They do a very nasty job on chickens. I didn't realize they would mess with cats. Ours surely see them frequently but seem to keep their distance.

Yes, I was a little surprised to see the misinformation going around about them. But it just points to the tremendous disconnect people have from nature.

Lady Locust said...

Glad you got him. They are nasty creatures and I too have lost a few of chickens to them over the years. Raccoons and mink are even worse. Nice clean hay boys!

Su Ba said...

As a young child I remember eating 'possum stew that my grandmother made. I can't recall how it tasted, but I do know that I had no objections. So it must have been just fine.

Leigh said...

Lady Locust, it appears we have a 'possum population increase this year. That and skunks! Fortunately, we rarely see 'coons and so far (knock on wood) no mink!

Su Ba, 'possum is excellent eating. Highly recommended for those who eat game. :)

Goatldi said...

That is the truth!
But what can we expect from a population that was asking in the late 1980’s of park rangers in Yosemite 1. When do you let the deer out? 2. What time are the waterfalls turned on? And the ladies in the groups trying to climb the trails to the falls wearing mules.

wyomingheart said...

Well, bless you and Dan on your relocation plan. When we moved into this farm house it was spring, and then fall was upon us. Nobody had lived in our house for three years, except for a family of opossum... in the basement. We didn’t see any sign of them until the colder weather. We did live traps, and carried them out, and serious battle until we were able to block all their entrances. It was a battle that we finally won, except for the damage they did to my corn patch... lol! They are the only critters that never tested positive for rabies, but they carry plenty of other germs for sure.

Chris said...

Possums in Australia are cute, marcupials. They mostly eat fruits, flowers and nectar. But they can become somewhat of a nuisance if they decide to set up home, in your roof! Fortunately that hasn't happened to us. That was an untenable situation for you, however, with the animal feed and bedding, having defication on it.

I'm all for living in harmony with the native wildlife, until they start making a mess of your hard won endeavours. If their attention cannot be deflected elsewhere, then it's relocation (or burial) time.

Renee Nefe said...

It sort of sounds as if the 'possum was marking it's territory in the bucks' hay...trying to cover up the bucks' smell with its own. Glad you finally caught it and hope it doesn't figure out how to get back. I'm sure if it does or told its friends about your place...then 'possum bbq will be on the menu. ;)

Leigh said...

Goatldi, or having someone go off on an angry tirade at a spinning demonstration because they assumed sheep were killed for their fleece.

Wyomingheart, oh my, that's almost worse than mice or rats! Glad you won!

Chris, the Virginia Opossum is North America's only native marsupial. What we don't have in variety, we make up for in sheer population numbers!

Renee, that's probably it. If it wasn't for that, we likely wouldn't have known it was around!

Ron Clobes said...

I would vote for extermination. There's plenty more where that one came from and you have enough to deal with. I have an old water softener salt barrel that I fill with water. Be sure to put the end with the door into the barrel first as I have had rats and skunks break free of the trap when the door end is up. While the animal is in the dunk tank, I go dig a hole in the garden. That way, you can still eat it, but not directly.

Leigh said...

Ron, good to hear from you! Dan has used that method in the past, but I don't think he particularly likes it. And he doesn't like to shoot them if we aren't going to use the meat. This guy was too small, so he was given a chance to grow up and maybe make the dinner table if he comes back!