Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sometimes they come back

My mom was putting food out in one of the shelters that we've set up for the neighborhood stray cats when she got a surprise. This shelter is an old wheeled plastic garbage can, cracked and no longer useful for its original purpose, tucked under a Rhododendron with several old plastic tablecloths on top for waterproofing and a bag of leaves for insulation. This one also featured a critter who stuck its pointy nose out of the covered entrance to the shelter when my mom went to set some food inside. She recognized the nose as belonging to an opossum, but asked me to check it out. After three tries I managed to get the photo above.

I assured her - incorrectly - that opossums are insectivores who do not stay in one spot for very long. If the Wikipedia entry is to be believed, they are opportunistic omnivores who will stay in one area as long as food - including pet food, and occasionally small (kitten-sized?) mammals - is readily available.

I didn't just go out with a camera, but with a garden rake as well, to encourage the intruder to leave the area. But I looked at the wet, frightened, and bedraggled creature in my picture and took pity on it. It was, after all, a cold and rainy night, and we knew the cats had other accommodations available. And my laziness one hot Summer day last year put another opossum through a lot more distress than it should have experienced. Yes, I know this is almost certainly not the same opossum, but I still feel bad about the last one, slowly cooking in a cage in the scorching midday heat that it naturally avoids. I decided to leave this one unmolested.

This morning the lid protecting the entrance to the shelter was pushed aside, and the opossum was gone. The cat food was still there.

Title Reference: The creepy Stephen King short story Sometimes They Come Back.

1 comment:

dee said...

Oh let's face it. Cat food outside is an all-you-can-eat buffet for possums, raccoons, groundhogs as well as neighborhood cats. You should have a number of visitors this winter. Keep the camera handy.

And as they all partake of their free feast tomorrow, they'll be thankful for you.