A few weeks ago, I was on one of my daily walk/runs. During a certain stretch, I noticed the smell of something dead. As I got closer, I noticed it was a possum that had been hit by a car. It was pretty decimated, and I tried to not look too closely as I walked by, but some movement caught my eye.
At first, I thought it was a mouse, scavenging the body. (Ick.) As I walked by, I noticed that it looked different, and I came to realize that it was a baby possum. I walked on, as I had planned on doing 4 or 5 miles that day, and I wasn't even at the halfway point yet. As I kept walking, my conscience got heavier and heavier, and I turned around and went back.
I stood there on the sidewalk, watching the baby crawl around on its dead mother and tried to decide what to do. Perhaps a sane person would have been able to toughen up, and walk on, claiming something about the course of nature. I watched as the baby tried to nurse, and all "sanity" went out the window. I resolved to rescue him.
Then began my dance where I had to figure out how to go about it. There was NO way I was going to touch the body of the mother. It was just gross. I found a stick, and had some idea to try to gently nudge the baby away so I could pick him up. I'd stop every time a car got close, as it crossed my mind what it would look like, a grown woman poking at a dead possum along the side of the road with a stick. I wanted to keep some semblance of dignity.
After a while of this, I finally was able to coax the baby on top of the mom, and I swooped in and scooped him up. Then began my mile and a half walk back to the car, the whole time in my mind thinking "I am insane. Completely insane." The fact I was talking to the possum most of the way probably proved that point. I got to the car, sat down, and called the husband to ask him to have an old towel and a shoe box ready. His response was something along the lines of "Um, ok. Why?" I responded with a "You'll see" and left it at that. He didn't push the issue. I guess being married to me this long, he's learned to just go with it.
Now, I know what some of you out there are thinking. "Ew! A possum? A POSSUM?!" Yes, I know, adult possums are not some of the cutest animals on the planet. They squick me out too. Trust me. But the babies? Specifically this baby? Well, have a look for yourself:
I just couldn't leave him by the side of the road, nursing on his dead mother's body. Could you? Well, maybe you could, nevermind, don't answer that.
Anyways, we journeyed home, and after he had been shown to all the humans who live here, I sat at the computer to figure out what on earth to do. I knew we weren't going to keep him, but it was also the weekend, and it was next to impossible to get a hold of anyone. After researching online about what to do in the meantime, the hubby went off to the store for some pedialyte and a syringe, and I kept searching for a wildlife rehabber.
The possum didn't like the box, and I knew it was essential to keep him warm. I sat there, with him in my hand, reading about possums being marsupials, when it dawned on me. I had a pouch, of sorts. I was wearing a sports bra, and plopped him right down in it, where he promptly curled up and went to sleep. (because you know, I wasn't feeling crazy enough already) I felt less crazy though when I talked with a friend whose mother used to rehab wild animals, and that friend said that her mom used to keep baby animals in her bra too. So ha HA, less crazy! Sort of.
That's where he stayed for the following 36 hours, which was how long it took to find someone to take him. I'd take him out to feed him and have him go to the bathroom, and after exploring my lap for a while, he'd inevitably climb back into my bra on his own. He seemed happy, and it definitely goes down in the books as one of the weirdest days of my life.
The kids and I finally took him to drop him off, at a local vet that takes wild animals. I walked in with the kids, and filled out the paperwork. The receptionists asked where he was, and I sheepishly answered that he was in my shirt. Bless them, they didn't even bat an eye, one of them even telling me they once had a lady pull a baby chihuahua out of hers. I handed him over, to a bunch of "Aww"s from the ladies behind the desk, and the kids and I went home.
I know we did the right thing, and that we left him in good hands. It was harder than I thought handing him over, even the hubby had gotten attached in the short time the baby possum was with us. I feel good about it though, and I hope we taught the kids some valuable lessons as well.
Godspeed little dude.