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little cow

Martha the Orphan Possum

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I have learned a lot about possums over the past few weeks since we've had Martha.  First, they are mostly slow moving and shy creatures.  They are also gentle, with few defenses except for the infamous 'play dead'.  Martha has never hissed at me, but she opens her mouth when she is startled.  Possums rarely ever get rabies because of their lower body temperature.  Baby possums need care until they are about five months old.  At three months, (when we found poor Martha) they have pink ears.  Over the next few weeks, black began at the base of their ears and moves up until they have black ears as an adult possum.  Their paws look like they are wearing black, fingerless gloves.  They are curious little creatures that like to explore their environment, but get scared easily and want a place to hide close by (for Martha, it's her blanket).  Their feet look more like koalas than any other North American mammal.  They are, in fact, more closely related to koalas and kangaroos.  They are omnivores, but especially enjoy insects and fruit.  They also eat cat food that is left out overnight.  Martha's basic diet is soaked kitten food blended with fruit, veggies, and a calcium supplement.  

At 3 months

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Her cage

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Martha this morning.  Notice the black on her lower ears. 

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Edited by little cow

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LC,   Glad you are giving Martha a new lease on life.  In all honesty I have to say possums arn't not my favorite animal. But I do admire your big heart for all of God's creatures. So I do wish you & Martha well.  Best Wishes. PD

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Thanks, guys.  There is a family joke about me and possums.  Years ago, I went out to the hay barn to check on the cows after dark.  The single light cast a small amount of light in a little area.  As I was looking for something in the barn, I heard something on the shelf next to me.  I assumed it was the cat, because she always jumps up there for petting.  I reached my hand over to pet her, absent-mindedly, but something wasn't quite right.  The cat was black, but I saw something grey out of the corner of my eye.  When I looked, my hand was hovering about an inch above a full grown possum.  He was eyeing my hand, but was quite peaceful.  Now, I realize it was because I was moving slowly.  He didn't get petted, but almost, lol!

So, if you startle a possum, move slowly and back up to let them go on their way.  They should calm down a bit.  They are nocturnal, but are sometimes seen in the daytime, but usually only if disturbed by a cat, dog, or other predator.  Pick up your cat bowls at night.  Lock up your chickens at night.  If you make your coop rat-proof, it will definitely be possum proof.  

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I picture a koala bear when I look at her.  She has the pouch and the feet with thumbs, like a koala.  She also moves slowly, like a koala.  If you think of them that way, maybe they can be cuter.  

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8 hours ago, qhridinGA said:

They have very cute faces.  I hate their tails.

I'm afraid I can't find any part of them I like.

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She is kind of soft to pet.  Like guard hairs on a shepherd, but softer.  And her feet are warm and fleshy.  More primate than rat.  

The good news is that they don't eat hay, nor do they like to nest where barn cats live.  The only worry about feces or urine from possums causing EPM in horses is if your hay storage area has something to eat in it, such as cat food left out.  If not, they will be happy to visit your farm and significantly reduce the population of bugs (they even eat ticks), but your horses should be safe.  

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EPM protozoa is spread to horses through possum feces. So they can infect horses if they leave their feces in pastures or feed or hay. I leave them alone and just hope for the best but I can't speak for my neighbor, who has chickens.

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I'm one of the weirdos who love possums. They eat a lot of ticks, good enough reason for me to leave them alone. And I know they kill chickens and may carry disease but they have their place.

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I'm going to work on becoming a wildlife rehabilitator, since we unintentionally got smart about raising possums.  It's a bit of work, but you can set limits as to how many you take in.  Since the wildlife rescue was too busy to call me back, there is obviously a need in our area.  Possums have such a low rabies risk that it seems safer than other animals.  They are endearing little creatures that eat a ton of bugs (including ticks).    

Edited by little cow

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I think everywhere is short on rehabbers. I called the ones here when a nest of woodpeckers came down with a limb. They told me what to do but no one would take them.

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