When you have wild animals in the garden the most upsetting things can happen.
The dogs and I have a habit of being outdoors in the morning before it gets too warm and then we go inside for some hours and go outdoors again in the afternoon. So, Ulla, Milo and me met the opossum baby in the garden early in the morning. I put out a slice of banana for it and minded my own business. It seemed like it got quite used to Ulla, and Ulla always tracked it down if it was somewhere in the garden.
When we went outside again in the afternoon I suddenly saw a small wet creature on the narrow stone shelf dividing the pool filter from the pool.
The poor little opossum baby had possibly tried to drink from the swimming pool but had fallen into the water and not managed to get out of the water again. Finally, it had succeeded to struggle up on the shelf between the pool filter and the actual swimming pool. The figure lay very still while the water was flushing around and partly over it and into the pool filter. At first glance, I thought it was dead.
I fished the wet, totally exhausted little baby out of the water and put it into a cardboard box. It didn’t even try to play dead. I wrapped a towel around the creature to keep it warm and hoped for the best.
I have for a couple of months been the proud owner of a Fitbit Alta HR tracker, and when I later looked at the heart rate tracker for that day, my pulse had been like I was running. I felt so terrible for not properly care for the small opossum baby. So much for being all grown up and sensible.
But the opossum baby survived. It slept in the crate for two days, eating some dog food, watermelon and some banana. After two days it escaped and since even Ulla didn’t manage to track it down again we thought it had left the garden. Oh, and we made a rescue pier in the swimming pool.
Some days later again (sorry, this is a long and intricate story!), Ulla refused to get inside after her ritual evening pee in the garden. I found a flashlight and she showed me the opossum baby laying still but glaring at us under some leaves. I picked it up and it seemed very weak, breathing heavy and fast and had som blood and scratches on its stomach. Hamre, my almost always patient hero, found Milo the Rottweilers travel cage (rather big for an opossum). We put some old newspapers in the bottom, gave the baby some water and food, but was pretty sure that this time it would not survive.
It’s terrible to interfere in such unpredictable things that wildlife. It is mainly short stories about a struggle to live and then die. Not so unlike the human’s story but shorter and often more unforgiving with fewer choices.
There is now ten days since we last found it and the opossum baby now lives in Milos big Rottweiler cage. It has got sawdust, alfa alfa hay and a Tommy Bahama shoebox as a small cave. We feed it puppy milk substitute every night, fruit, dry and wet dog food. On the long term, we have to contact the wildlife coalition and find out where we can let out the little rascal.
We are now trying to leave it alone as much as we can to keep it as wild as possible. Most of the time I just put out some food and some fruit and fresh water and there is no living sign of it. But later when I check, all the food are gone and some new poop is thrown out of the Tommy Bahama shoebox hacienda.
This morning when I looked out of the bedroom’s window and into the cage that is located right outside, I saw that the opossum baby had climbed up the lattice door and was fiddling with the lock. Since this little creature at the moment measures around 5 inches (12-13 cm) from snout to rump (not included the tail), and the crate is designed to keep a Rottweiler inside under a transatlantic flight, I am pretty confident that it will not manage to escape this week at least.
Want to actually learn something about Opossums? DFW and NWF are great sources!