Baby Season

It is finally here and in full swing, babies are coming in faster than you can say Didelphis Virginiania. Right now in Possum Holler I feel like my mantra is “there’s always room for one more.” And oh my, are they precious! A litter of 50 gram joeys came in yesterday – all nine (yes, nine!) were dirty, hungry, and ornery. They are now just starting to learn to lap.

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Remember, this time of year many female opossums are carrying babies in the pouch. The deceased one you pass on the road just might be a momma, so a quick look at the belly just might save little lives. If you find babies, remove them from the pouch quickly because suckling on the post-mortem mother’s milk will introduce germs into their bodies. Get them warm and comfortable and contact a wildlife rehabilitator ASAP (you can find one by calling the vet or going to your state’s wildlife resource website for a registry of licensed rehabilitators).

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Picture credit: Oklahoma Opossum Center

The flyers, ready for a life in the wild, were released the other week. A big thanks goes out to Chris for introducing them into a colony on her property. Darlings, may you scale the loftiest treetops and glide high!

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~*~* Mama Possum

Just An Update…

I have not posted in a while, which is an injustice upon this blog for which there is no excuse! Well, the purpose of this post is simply to provide a recap for all that has gone on here at the ark over the Winter and all that is going to pass in the near future.

If you have been keeping up with this blog, you may have noticed a name-change! The reason for this is that I have set up my nonprofit, Saving Tails Animal Rescue, so that the sales of my art and other business ventures with the proceeds going towards my animals can be associated with the rescue initiative.

The flyers are having cabin fever, but they will be released once things warm up for the Spring. We have had the most bipolar weather, with a literal ice storm that had everything cloaked in an inch-thick layer of what looked and felt like frosted glass for two days, then a drastic change to clear, sunny, and Summer-like (and very muddy!). Wilbur, the runt who had some hair-loss issues in the beginning, was put back on formula for a while and has pretty much caught up to the others. He is still a bit smaller, but at least now he is healthy.

My possum family has grown suddenly larger with the addition of Suely, Abner, and Peep – all non-releasables who were in need of a forever home. Suely is a big, sweet girl who is missing one eye due to a car collision when she was a juvie and is blind in the other. Her soulmate is Abner, a very talkative little boy with MBD. Peep was found as a juvenile in the middle of a road and she has no eyes – but she is very keen and learns her surroundings well (opossums don’t have very good eyesight anyway, they rely mainly on their sense of smell and hearing, so I think Peep’s lifelong lack of sight has actually made her other senses extremely strong).

I am almost finished writing O’Riley in its entirety and will continue posting chapters on this blog for my readers to be able to sort of “preview” the book. The final few chapters, plus additional ones, will be included within the book that I am going to be self-publishing in the Spring.

~*~* Mama Possum

Suely and Abner are soulmates.

Suely and Abner are soulmates.

HoldOn!

Meet Oreo the Kitten

He started meowing as soon as we entered the room, like he knew someone was coming to rescue him.

 Oreo Before

As a cat lover, I will say “all cats are good cats,” regardless of their individual idiosyncrasies. But this one right here truly is a good boy. About three weeks ago… me, Tony, and his little girl were in the office of the gentlemen who rents us our storage. The baby was occupying herself with the animatronic Halloween candy bowl, and over its annoying chatter Tony asked if he heard a kitten in the room. Indeed, sitting within the box next to him was this little kitten. The gentlemen said the kitten was found around the storage units and he was unable to find a shelter that would take the poor soul, so he had been referred to the county and was waiting on pickup. Oreo had one eye sealed shut from conjunctivitis, was rail thin and had crusty fur – I knew that wherever he was going he wouldn’t be given a chance, and I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to live with it if I had left him there.

After 

After a few days of treatment, Oreo was all better. He is such a sweet boy. I’ll sleep with him next to me, sometimes wake up to hear the sound of my other cats in a brief scuffle and check to make sure he’s alright - and there he’ll be, sitting on his haunches at my side. He is curious and loves to walk around to see what’s going on, but will saunter right back when he’s had enough investigating. When I find the right forever home for him I’ll be glad, but he is still very frail and I need to make sure that wherever he goes he will be taken care of well, and if they have other cats that they will pay special attention to make sure he gets to eat (at the storage center, the feral cats were probably not letting him). For right now, though, he’s my little buddy. :)

I also want to thank Keeper of the Wild, an amazing Charleston-based organization that has helped me get the word out about this little fellow to other animal lovers.

 

~*~* Mama Possum

Update on the Flyers

The flying squirrels are doing fantastic – I just saw the picture I had taken of them when they first got to my house and was delightfully surprised at how much bigger they are now. Right now I’ve got them in a clear plastic Rubbermaid box with a snap-on lid; I cut the top portion of the lid out and duct taped some screen over it. That way they get to move around and get sunlight from the window, but the little Houdini’s can’t escape. I’ve got a small birdcage wrapped in screen ready for them to move into, but I’m probably going to wait a few more days for them to get a little bit bigger (I’m mostly worried about them not being able to thermo-regulate well enough, the house is getting somewhat chilly at night now and I like the babies to be able to huddle).

They play peek-a-boo with me, staring at me with their big black eyes when they think I’m unaware and then darting back into their linens when I “notice.” And this morning, I saw all three of them get out of the toboggan and run around the box playing… These guys are FAST! I’ve decided to name them Orville, Wilbur, and Amelia… but Kamikaze 1, 2, and 3 seem like more fitting names.

Amelia wouldn't get still for a picture, she was too busy looking for a place to suckle on my hand!

Amelia wouldn’t get still for a picture, she was too busy looking for a place to suckle on my hand!

Opossum Release

Well, the day that I have been hardening my heart for has come to pass. Yesterday evening, I rounded up the little ones (not so little anymore!) and placed them all in a cat carrier – the last one did not want to be messed with one bit, I had to go on a virtual chase around the kennel to finally get him!

I could not have asked for better release weather. The beginning of the week had seen nothing but rain, so there would be plenty of water and bugs, and it was a nice day yesterday, shady and mild. Tony and I drove out to our first release site option around at around five (I did this later in the evening so it would be during the possums’ natural waking time). I stressed out a little because our first choice fell through, but we had several backup sites so everything turned out copacetic.

I trudged out into the woods until I found a location with plenty of underbrush and water access and started setting up “camp” (a little shelter covered in debris with some cat food underneath for temporary sustenance until the possums are ready to venture out beyond their comfort zone). All it needed was a little campfire and mini marshmallows. :P

Once I unzipped the cat carrier, they started to step out precariously, one by one. Two of them had jet lag so I had to wake them up and pull them close to the door, haha. They all seemed quite shy at first, sniffing and rustling around me within about a ten foot radius, just feeling out the terrain. One went sloshing through the water and as he passed me, he paused and just looked at me for a good moment, as if to say, “Thanks!” and then continued to tread proudly on his way. I tossed some cat food around and they munched a little bit. It was getting dark by this point and the possums were beginning to vanish into the underbrush. The only signs of them I could discern were the sounds of their rustling and crunching on cat food, and soon even those sounds ceased to exist. I could only see two of them, and that was only because they had each ascended about twenty feet up into a tree to survey the area. They must have been thinking, “Wow, I could never climb this high in the kennel!” Tony met up with me via the slender, winding nature trail that snaked through the forest about 25 feet away from me and together we watched the two sitting peacefully up in the trees until it got almost too dark to see them anymore, but not too dark to find our way back to the trail. And that is the imprint of the last memory I have of the little ones.

Do I miss them? Yes!!! Every time I look at the kennel now, I am wondering why I don’t see a bunch of white-faced acrobats putting on a show: running up the sides and ruling the trapeze net obstacle course. But I am happy now that they get to live the course of life that was intended for them, climbing real trees and getting to carry their own babies on their backs. I will always remember them, but I will also realize that they were granted life in a situation where otherwise they wouldn’t have had a chance and now they are free. One of my fears was that they would not leave the carrier, or would try to follow me out of the woods, but they seemed to blend into their surroundings quite well.

 

In the kennel one hour prior to release

In the kennel one hour prior to release

Marsie was, of course, among the first to step out!

Marsie was, of course, the first to step out!

She explores the hut where they will eat and seek shelter if they need to before they venture beyond their comfort zone.

She explores the hut where they will eat and seek shelter if they need to before they venture beyond their comfort zone.

A little bit shy.

A little bit shy.

But freedom nudges him onward.

But freedom nudges him onward.

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Wildflowers by Tom “Opetty”

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free

Run away, find you a lover
Go away somewhere bright and new
I have seen no other
Who compares with you

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
You belong with your love on your arm
You belong somewhere you feel free

Run away, go find a lover
Run away, let your heart be your guide
You deserve the deepest of cover
You belong in that home by and by

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worry
You belong somewhere you feel free
You belong somewhere you feel free

~*~*Mama Possum

Stop the Killing

As a passionate wildlife advocate, I felt the need to share this with my readers.

The State of Alabama has issued a law. In August 2013 occurred the expiration of wildlife rehabilitation permits and with it came the prohibition of anyone rehabilitating fur-bearing animals such as skunks, raccoons, opossums, wild boars, foxes, and bats – and instead the state has them euthanized, as if their lives aren’t worthy of a chance at survival. If this law takes root, it is only a matter of time before other states follow. The NAWR is trying fervently to have this law rescinded and is hiring a wildlife attorney to fight for them. You can go to their website and make a small donation (it all adds up) to help support the legal endeavor. Or, if you are unable, you can sign the petition on Change.org and make your voice heard. Only in numbers can we put an end to this needless killing.

Here is the website: https://www.nawildliferehab.org/Home_Page.html Please go there and read about it, and let’s do what we can to help wildlife in need.