What a summer! For the second time, we are foster parents for a foundling creature. This time, Sheila made the discovery on a walk with Poppy. Behind the barn, a mother opossum was dead, two of her infant “joeys” clinging to her back. The flies circling the corpse made it clear she was not just playing, well, possum.
This time we had a basic idea of what to do. But no, and whoa—do not feed them anything warned the rehabilitator. Look around as there are probably more. The woods begin just 50 feet from the barn, so if there were more joeys, they had taken leave for the shelter of the underbrush. The two we had were bundled off to rehab. They needed cleaning and special care, but should be fine.
In the days that followed we spotted another orphan and heard its cries. But we could never get close enough to catch it, and it soon disappeared. We are far enough into the country that we are surrounded by predators and their prey, and some creatures, like the opossum, are both. Even the joeys, almost cute with their pink noses and smoky eyes—can suddenly show their innate ferocity. But opossums are known for their useful scavenging, devouring ticks and mice and rotten fruit. They are a welcome member of the habitat.