The Intractable Autodidact

You are your own best teacher

Animals Adrift in my Suburban Pool

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.

Marsupial in my Pool

Marsupial in my Pool

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.

Rest up

Rest up

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.


16 comments on “Animals Adrift in my Suburban Pool

  1. Being En Pointe
    April 30, 2013

    OMG! You are brave!!

    • kentiki
      April 30, 2013

      Thank you! Not something I usually think of myself.

  2. rthepotter
    April 30, 2013

    What strange little creatures they are. Do they normally swim, or was this a freak accident, do you think?

    • kentiki
      April 30, 2013

      I think it fell in, maybe trying to get a drink. I haven’t ever heard of them swimming, but apparently they can at least tread water. They are odd critters!

      • rthepotter
        May 1, 2013

        This one was a lucky creature that you rescued him in time. Let’s hope he learned something about swimming pools!

  3. Julie Woodson
    May 1, 2013

    I read somewhere that opossums rarely get rabies. It has something to do with their body temperature. I looked it up (opossums and rabies) because I found one in my neighborhood a few years ago behaving strangely, obviously dying, repeatedly crossing the street before finally just plunking right down in the middle. It didn’t try to run away from me (though it hissed), so I knew it was sick. Poor little guy. I nearly ran over a different one behaving the same way in another part of town.

    • kentiki
      May 2, 2013

      That sounds like one manifestation I’ve read about for rabies symptoms, i.e. indifference to being approached. But that could be so many other things too. They are often hit by cars. They amble along in no particular hurry.

  4. Barbara Backer-Gray
    May 2, 2013

    I love possums, too. But then, I love rats as well, and possums are like rats, but bigger. We had a possum family in our backyard behind the shed in the Rio Grande Valley, and one morning Pa and Ma possum were having sex in the middle of the lawn. So I went out with my camera and took pictures from about three feet away. I was clicking away. They looked up at me in disbelief, but didn’t move. At some point I felt I had enough pictures and they clearly were not going to change positions while I was there, so I went inside. Where I found out that the film was messed up, so no pics. That was one of the low points in my photography life.

    • kentiki
      May 2, 2013

      Oh no! At least you tried. Possum porn was not in your future I suppose. I love rats too. We had one for a few years. She died about a year ago. Fantastic pet & great animal. So sweet.

  5. Evolution of X
    May 4, 2013

    When I was a kid, we adopted a half-feral cat that lived in the woods behind our house (until he got older when he became very much a house, and lap, cat). We used to leave the garage door open a few inches for him so he could get out of the rain or the cold if he wanted. One winter, a possum found her way into the garage and had a litter behind an old surf board leaning against one wall. She and the babies stayed for a few weeks (and put up with us going out to peek at them every night).

    I like possums too. Good for you for saving the little guy. Was he gone (back to his arboreal life) when you got home? Cool photos.

    • kentiki
      May 4, 2013

      I love your story. I would have visited them a lot too. I am happy to report that the possum was gone when I got home. I had given him/her a handful of dry dog food, which was also gone.

  6. kiwiskan
    May 14, 2013

    Well done

  7. lekorany
    May 17, 2013

    They are so cunning and in my opinion, cute.

  8. kentiki
    May 20, 2013

    I forgot to post an update to this story. When I got back from work, the possum was gone and so was the dry dog food I left near him, so here’s hoping he had breakfast and climbed back up a tree.

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