|Several people have written to me for updates on the possum situation. |
A brief recap:
I've had a small black possum sneaking into my house through the cat door, to eat my cat's food, for a couple weeks now. I blocked the cat door, but then he started boldly coming in through the front door, and making his way to the kitchen.
Merrick directed me to the possum website (yes, they have their own website; actually several including www.possum.net.au), and I called a couple of local people who were listed there as possum experts. The first one was shocked that I had called and asked for the website name so she could have her name removed. All right.
I talked to a lady at the Los Angeles Animal Control centre. She said possums are basically good. In fact, she had a pet possum for many years. Apparently they can be trained to use a litter box. I considered this, as my possum (I called him Brian) was (is) pretty cute. And really, not much afraid of me. Or my indefatigable guard cat. (sarcasm noted?).
But, no. I don't think so. I can't see him snuggling up on the sofa to watch Rock Star INXS, or softly nuzzling me awake if I oversleep for breakfast, or scampering down the stairs to greet me when I come home, the way my cat Sebastian does (occasionally).
She said that if I caught the possum and took him to animal control (or the pound) they would have him put to sleep. So she suggested I take him to a campus, where he would have lots to eat. Or at least a park.
So, I set the trap. I waited until just after sunset (possums can't see in the day light, as the possum experts informed me) and set my cat carrier on the patio at my front door, put a pile of cat food inside, and left the hatch open. I worried that I might not be able to close the hatch fast enough, and actually more so that I might get a bite taken out of my hand, so I propped up a piece of glass that I could slide over the opening much more quickly.
And then I waited to hear the familiar crunching of cat food. Soon enough, there was that same crunching sound. And I crept out, only to see Sebastian sitting there, licking her lips. She had eaten the bait.
Sometimes, she is so not with the program.
I gave her a dirty look (which I doubt she appreciated), and set out another pile of cat food. And went back inside to work on my website. (Of which I have grown quite weary, in case you were wondering, but it is shaping up if I do say so myself.)
Several hours later, I did hear the little black critter (possums are not rodents, as they are quite defensive about at possums.com.) and I quietly slid the glass across, then clicked the cat door shut.
Here is a picture.
click here to see the picture
He doesn't really look too concerned, does he. I think the big pile of cat food was distracting his from any potential and imminent doom. But my heart was racing.
So I delicately put the cage in the back of the truck and I drove over to Griffith Park. (I wasn't going to drive all the way to USC or UCLA in the middle of the night.) Of course, the park is closed after dark, which I knew, but I didn't realize there would be a huge gate across the road.
So I parked in the road, got out, and walked into the park (I didn't think it was a good idea just to set him loose on the sidewalk). I went as far as I dared go (it was quite dark) and when I hard something rustle in the bushes, I decided that was far enough.
I set the cage down, and I was so nervous as I opened the cage door. I half expected Brian to be furious with me and leap out at me with teeth bared. (Possums have 50 teeth, according to www.opossum.org, and quite sharp).
But nothing happened.
So I tipped the cage, hoping he would slide out. But I guess he was holding on. Either that, or he hadn't finished his midnight snack.
I started to panic; I wasn't about to stick my hand in the cage and pull him out.
But eventually, he poked his nose out, and then he crawled out, quite tentatively. He looked around, and he looked at me, and then he scampered off into the brush.
And Brian was gone. My baby had left the nest.
I was sad, but tried to be happy for him. I said a little prayer, that he would find food and a soft place to sleep, and not be eaten by coyotes.
And then I headed back to my truck.
There was a forest ranger looking at my truck, parked in front of the park gates. He was shining his flashlight in my face. "What are you doing?" he asked.
So I explained the situation, and I did have an empty cat carrier as evidence. He appeared to believe me. But he said, "you're not supposed to set animals loose in the park, they could cause a disruption of the ecosystem."
I thought, "it's a possum, not an emu." But I didn't say that. I said, "Well, the lady at the Animal Control said that if I took him in there, they would kill him."
And the ranger nodded, smiled a little, and said, "OK, have a nice evening." I think he actually touched his hand to the brim of his cap. "Have a nice evening" means "go away, I'm not going to arrest you. This time."
So, I came home, and yes, it felt a little empty. I set Sebastian's carrier on the patio, and went back to work on my website. A little shaken, but not stirred.
A little while later, I heard some scuffling out on the patio. I looked out, and there was a huge grey possum, trying to get into the cat cage. Apparently Brian had not finished his dinner after all, and Big Momma wasn't about to let the vittles go to waste.
Either that, or she was wondering what happened to Brian. This is where the trail ends, and no sign of the little feller.
She looked at me, and I looked at her, and I think she knew in her heart what had transpired. I took a step towards her, wondering if I could get the carrier door open again, so she would go in. And then I would have some 'splainin' to do to the forest ranger down at Griffith Park, when I made my second possum drop of the evening.
But she scampered down the stairs. I set the "trap" up again, and listened for the rest of the evening, but she never came back.
However, just now as I was typing this (it's 1:30 am, two days later), I heard a rustling on the patio. I looked out and sure enough, she was out there. Munching on a napkin that seems to have a bit of burrito juice on it. She glared at me and ran away.
So I've set the cat carrier up again, with some delicious tender vittles just inside the doorway, and my trusty emergency sliding glass door in place.
Will she go in?
Will I catch her?
Will the same forest ranger be on duty at Griffith Park?
Los Angeles, CA Sept 2005