In order to keep the squirrel population reasonably numbered in our back yard, I possess what is known as the  have-a-heart live trap. This trap is usually only set during the day when squirrels are active and I am at home to monitor it. It is not my wish to have any animal improperly caged , with no food or water, for any extended length of time.
It is for that reason that we also have what is known to most mothers as a baby monitor. The receiving end is tucked under the shed’s eave, out of the rain, near which the trap is set, while the projector dangles in a little mock birdcage from our kitchen ceiling. Both sound and flashing light alerts us of outside activity. It is through that that we instantly know the exact moment that the trap doors are sprung on our trap.
This little monitor actually multi-tasks for us as it also lets us hear the songs of the canaries, housed in our aviary, the crows cawing from high up in our big old maple, the blue-jays screaming for peanuts, and the chickadees and goldfinch which twitter and tweet while visiting our feeder. It brings all the sounds of the outdoors in. We hear all of the wild bird’s song and chit-chatter of squirrels and chipmunks .
But, and here lies the folly, my for-getter’s  getting better, while my remember’s not so great.  I forgot to spring the trap when darkness fell. When one is sound asleep one has the tendency to not hear the click of the trap’s doors. When I popped out to reset the trap in the morning, as I usually do, while the coffee brews, there it was, passively perched on its rump, with its little monkey-like face peering out at me. It cocked its head slightly, as though studying me, as I studied it. What I saw was a Virginia Opossum, and he wasn’t playing possum, he just sat their patiently waiting for me to get around to letting him out. He looked so cute I called the neighbour lady over to let her have a peak. When I released him he quickly ambled over to our carport, where, later in the day, I found him curled  up on a shelf fast asleep. I didn’t disturb him.
The opossums are the only marsupials that live outside of Australia with exception of one, the rat opossum, of South America. From my reference books, I quote in part: “Virginia opossums are the size of a small dog, with a head and body length of 12 to 20 inches, but their appearance is rat-like with short legs and pointed muzzle. The tail is almost as long as the body and is naked for most of its length. The ears are also hairless. The rough fur  varies from black to brown to white. The hind feet are rather like human hands. The first toe is clawless and opposable in exactly the same way as our thumb.
“Opossums have sometimes been described as scavengers, mainly because they are often found feeding on rubbish around human habitations. That merely shows their adaptability for they will eat a very wide variety of foods. Small ground animals such as earthworms, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, snails, and toads are taken in large numbers in the summer and autumn, together with voles, mice, snakes, and small birds. 
“The spread, in historic times, of the Virginia opossum from the southeast United States north into Ontario is remarkable for an animal whose original home is tropical and subtropical climates. They do not hibernate, although they become inactive in the real cold weather, subsisting on fats stored in their body. It is not unusual to find them with parts of their ears or  tail lost due too frost-bite.
“Opossums usually live in wooded country areas, but the sloppy habits of man, especially around the fast food outlets, has encouraged them to take up urban residency.”
So there you have it folks. No need to play possum when asked about opossums, cause now you know.
Take care, ’cause we care.

Barrie Hopkins