Here in the orange grove in Ojai, we spotted a baby opossum outside our gate. Well, let me rephrase, our dogs saw this little ball of fur that we finally figured out was the baby of the mother possum we had seen just a few minutes before. The little possum hid inside the wheel well of the van so the dogs would calm down. Later, he wandered across the dirt road to the field beyond. I saw a hawk swoop down within minutes of his departure, but didn’t spy anything in the hawk’s claws. Hopefully, the little fellow got away. There are a lot of natural predators out here in the orange grove for a tasty morsal of meat so he/she will not have an easy time if she even made it through the afternoon.
This evening, I looked up a few facts on opossums, which I found interesting. Here are a few:
1) 60% of young opossums will not make it to adulthood.
2) When opossums “play dead,” they actually faint and have no control over this reaction to a predator. It also emits a foul odor that makes it smell dead.
3) Opossums aren’t native to the West but were introduced to that region. Some believe Southerners brought them to the area since they were popular to hunt and eat in the South, providing “a taste of home.”
4) Possums are resistant to most snake bites, including rattlesnakes and copperheads.
5) They are meticulous groomers so despite smelling dead from time to time, they are actually quite clean.