Getting dressed this morning for another routine day, I opened the curtains to let in some, but not too much, light. I don’t like seeing myself too clearly in the morning. I noticed some more-vigorous-than-usual currents in the pool. With the pump not set to turn on until about 9:00am, the water should have been still. I peeked out and saw with my nearsighted eyes what looked like a tree branch near the steps. But it didn’t look quite right. I needed to investigate.
So outside I went, showered and dressed, but still barefoot. I found this little guy swimming back and forth from the pool steps, along one edge of the pool, and back. I just plucked him up and out of the water like a little baked potato. He or she is a possum, or an opossum, and the only remaining North American (excepting Mexico) marsupial. These critters seem to thrive all over the south and southeast, as well as into Mexico and Central America. Opportunistic eaters, you can see the dentition on this gaping juvenile allows for a lot of tearing, ripping, and shredding. He was gaping and hissing in defense, though I couldn’t hear any hissing. Poor thing was exhausted from swimming for who knows how long.
I don’t know why people are often put off by them; they seem to occupy an ecological niche similar to that of the raccoon. I love them. I see in them a link to their 70-million-year evolutionary history, back to a time when North America had some of the kinds of strange animals Australia and New Zealand held on to. Plus, they have a built-in pouch, rear thumbs, and a prehensile tail. And wet, they (this one anyway) tend to look like Mickey Mouse after going on a bender.
I had to go to work. So I left my friend to dry and warm up nestled in a hammock I keep in the yard. I hope he’s gone and away back to his arboreal life when I return home. Oh one more thing; I also found a rainbow scarab (like this one) in the pool! I left that little gem in a flower pot.
Note: Though there’s no reason to believe this critter has rabies, I have been inoculated against that virus. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you may want to wear gloves or scoop an animal out of the water with a net.