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Grumpy Old Ganz

Didelphis Virginiana

In all honesty, I had absolutely nothing to write about this week since not much has happened, but my home property came through for me yet again.

Just the other day while I was outside I picked up the fresh scent of death, which is not uncommon with all the cats, coyotes, and owls encompassing the property. They all seemingly want to leave their “trophies” nearby for me to dispose of on a regular basis.

Following my nose, it didn’t take me long to find the source of the wretched smell which led me to the woodshed.

What I found was an opossum, hence the title, so I figured an explanation about this elusive creature along with some useless facts would be in order.

The “Common” or “Virginia” opossum as we know it got its name from the Algonquin dialect which is part of a sub-family of the American Indigenous language.

By no means am I a linguistic expert, but in my experience, most animals and plants have names derived from some sort of Latin term.

Opossums are related to the kangaroos and other marsupials found in Australia and I have no idea how or why they ended up in Minnesota? Guess I could do a little further research...

They look like a cross between a muskrat and a rat with their size roughly being that of the house cat. They have a gray body with no hair on their ears or tail.

They weigh approximately 4-15 pounds and when cornered or threatened will click their teeth, growl, or screech…clearly, the one I found made none of those noises!

The opossum has two litters a year with the number of young ranging from 6-20 a year. Minnesota trappers harvest 2000-8000 a year.

Their diet can be almost anything ranging from worms, insects, snakes, garbage, along with other sources including dead animals which is a constant supply in my backyard!

Here’s a fun fact about opossums I will relate to the Red Green Show—the Latin motto from the Possum Lodge Crest, “Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati”—which means when all else fails, play dead. Opossums truly do faint or “play dead” when confronted or stressed. It is a mechanism to stop predators from attacking them. Clearly, the opossum I found took “playing dead” literally!


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