Thursday, May 3, 2012

Here's Johnny...

The other night I looked out my kitchen shutters, and this is what I saw: 


It was Johnny Rotten. Obvious burglar is obvious. 

I stuck my head outside to say hello. I think he thought that if he didn't make eye contact with me, he remained invisible. This was not the case, and he probably realised the jig was up when I subjected him to a rant about breaking and entering, squatters' rights and rental agreements, and evolution. Which, by the way, must be a total lie. How can I have opposable thumbs and be constantly bested by a possum? Explain that, Darwin! 



Possums, obviously, are a very adaptable species, if not in the Darwinian sense of the word than at least in the general sense. Other native species, koalas for example, are not adaptable. If you build a suburb on koala habitat, that's it, it's all over for the koalas. But not the possum. You build a suburb where the possums live, and they'll move in with you. Literally. They will peel the tin back on your roof and move into your ceiling cavity. On hot days they'll descend into the wall cavities, and thump and rustle around while you're on the computer trying to get that chapter sorted out, and you can't concentrate because now the possums are having a screaming domestic, and you have to bang on the wall and shout: "Shut up! I'm trying to write! Why won't you just go outside and die!?!!?" 

I am speaking from experience here. Nightmarish, harried experience. 

Anyway, I decided that Johnny Rotten had to be moved from my kitchen shutters. If I can teach my dog to sit, and she remembers how to do it at least 30% of the time, and obeys at least 8%, then surely I can teach a possum that my house is out of bounds? 

I was quite nervous when I reached out to touch him. I mean, I know possums are kind of cute and I know I talk them up that way, but they're still also wild animals, with teeth and claws. Probably lice as well, and ticks. 

They're also kind of fuzzy and soft. At least, Johnny is. 

I grabbed an old towel. Not a lot of use as a shield, but at least something to staunch the bleeding if this went bad. I took a deep breath. 

I grabbed him. He didn't even struggle. 

I said soothing things in a low murmuring voice to him. He was a tight little ball of muscle, but he didn't try to scratch or bite. 

I carried him over to the wheelie bin and gave him a banana. He ate it, eyeing me suspiciously. 

We stared at each other in the gloom. I shook my head and snorted, and he gave it a moment just to prove he wasn't intimidated, then headed up into the passionfruit vine. 

I think we're friends now.

21 comments:

  1. enjoyed your story, Jen. I couldn't imagine living with possums, let alone touching one. You're a braver woman than me. Glad you took time to write about. Gave me a chuckle today.

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  2. Wow, that's WAAAAAAAAAAAY bigger than I pictured. Glad we don't have those critters here!

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    1. They are about the size of a cat. An evil cat. An evil cat planning total world domination.

      But don't you have badgers and aren't they kind of nasty? I mean, not at all wise and kind like Badger in the Wind in the Willows, which is the extent of my badger knowledge. Although I guess it's unlikely that badgers would break into your house.

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  3. You know, of course, that while Johnny distracted you outside, Siouxsie and the Banshee were raiding the bread.

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    1. I bet you're right, MC. It's bad enough that she's a criminal, but she shouldn't bring her kid along. I'm going to report her to Child Services.

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  4. "I think we're friends now."

    I think he needs some work when it comes to boundaries, however. :)

    Great story.

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    1. I know. The problem is, I can't think of any way to teach him that he's supposed to be an outdoors animal.

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    2. Maybe you could leave a copy of this on the kitchen table.

      You know, something to read as they eat.

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  5. Oh, Jen...you are braver than I am. I can't believe you picked him up and moved him!

    And you realize, now that you're friends, he'll want to sleep on the couch and will expect eggs and toast for breakfast. And you may as well hand over the remote control for the television.

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    1. I know! It's all over now, right? :)

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  6. Okay, he's way cute. Your possums are much improved over the American version which lack (for the most part) fur and long ratty tails. Ours also have lousy eyesight but they like bananas and cat food.

    The cats aren't happy about that, except for the bananas...the kitties are happy to let the possums have all the fruit.

    Everyone's right. Now that you've made nice, he'll come back with all his friends. Next night out you'll come home to a big fat noisy party...just you wait.

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    1. American possums are SCARY!

      I always thought that possums and cats were supposed to fight -- I've heard horror stories about cats needing emergency vet treatment thanks to thinking they could take on possums -- but my cats don't care. I've watched one of them open his eyes, look at the possum scuttling past him, and go straight back to sleep.

      Obviously my pets signed a treaty with the possums ages ago, and I'm the last to know.

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  7. Well, that was an interesting experiment. I'm glad you came out of it with all fingers still attached :)

    How long before evolutionarily-advanced Johny realizes that hanging on the shutters = free bananas?

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    1. Me too, Botanist! I've obviously inherited the trait off my mother. A previous dog of hers once treed a possum in a palm tree, and the further it climbed on the frond, the lower it got. It was like something out of a cartoon. So my mother, after spending all those years telling us not to go near wild animals, reached out and grabbed it. It climbed to her shoulder and stayed there.

      Smart animals, possums. They know that the food chain has loopholes.

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  8. I've always thought possums were cute. When one of them snuck into my house he just stood there and stared until I shooed him out.

    I bet if you keep giving him more bananas, he'll become your best friend.

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    1. I think what annoys me most is that they should be afraid. I mean, we're people, we're scary, right? They should scream and run, but they don't.

      I don't terrify possums. I mildy inconvenience them.

      Cute bastards.

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  9. Possums can be quite vicious... you did a good thing and helped him since he was stuck.

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    1. I'm sure he would have found his own way down eventually -- it's how he's been getting into my house for the past year!

      But I was very glad he was docile.

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  10. Strange... I was certain I left a message here... hmm maybe it didn't register... hehe crazy blogs. Possums are cute but can be dangerous. Good to know you took good care of him.

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    1. You did, tf! For some reason blogger thought you were spam. Grr! I have found it and resurrected it.

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