Friday, January 11, 2013

Playin' 'Possum

My little friend returned yesterday.  At dusk he appeared under the bird feeders and, once again, was unfazed at my presence.  In fact, this friendly little fella seems to have no fear of me whatsoever.

I was so intrigued by my first marsupial sighting that I set out to do some research.  Properly named the Virginia Opossum, these little mammals are not native to cold climes and have only recently been reported in central and northern Minnesota.  Legend has it they hitched rides from the southern states via trucks and/or large round bales of hays to emigrate north. Fact or fiction it’s an undisputed truth that opossums cannot handle frigid conditions. The Midwest’s wimpy winters of late have lured the little creatures northward where they have found shelter in man-made structures like barns, cabins, porches, and also brush piles. 

Normally nocturnal creatures, it’s not unusual, however,  to see them out and about on mild and sunny winter days.  Opossums perform an important, if unglamorous,  role in our ecosystem as they are primarily carrion eaters who supplement their diet with fruit, nuts and seeds.  In particular, it’s reported they love pet food. 

According to an article published by *MPR News:

“Biologists say opossum don't really compete for food or territory with other animals and they're not forcing other creatures out. They also aren't known to significantly harm crops or spread disease . . . ”

Here at Bon Bon Pond the welcome mat is out for our newest neighbor. 

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