Wildlife in my Underwear
Last week I was reading at the kitchen table when a small movement near the floor caught my eye. I looked down to see a short hairless tail disappearing under my chair. Right away I knew it wasn't one of the cats. No fur. In my experience, a naked tail like that was most likely attached to a rat or a possum. I yanked my feet up in the air and yelled for my son to come see.
Good news: It was a baby possum, not a rat.
Bad news: It was a baby possum.
My son said, "Mom, I think it's dying. It can hardly move."
I said, "OMG. A sick baby possum in the house! What if it's got rabies?"
(Please imagine a few moments of panic here.)
Eventually, we figured out it wasn't sick. It was just playing possum. Duh.
Good news: My son captured him in a dishrag and we put him outside in what seemed like a possum-friendly bush by the back fence, hoping his Mom would find him.
Bad news: She didn't.
A few days later I opened my underwear drawer to find him curled up in a corner, fast asleep. I shrieked. He did not appreciate being disturbed. Once again my son came to the rescue, and once again we put him out by the back fence. I figured sooner or later he'd learn where he belonged.
I had emailed my neighbors to see if anyone wanted him for a pet, but no one came forward.
A couple of days later I saw him on the back porch helping himself to the cat food. I was delighted. I felt certain that since he'd discovered that source of sustenance the last thing he would want to do would be to venture into the house again and take his chances with a shrieking human.
Shrieking human was wrong to imagine she could read possum's mind.
And then this morning, for the second time, I found a baby possum in my underwear drawer. I started to wonder if it was the same one over and over or if there was a whole orphaned litter out there. Individual characteristics of small marsupials are difficult to assess when in a state of panic.
Bad news: Possum in my underwear again.
Good news: I wasn't wearing them at the time.
I had assumed that like lightning, baby possums probably never struck twice, so to see one snuggled down in my best undies again was just as big a shock as it had been the first time. I ripped the nearest towel off the rack and threw it over him. I grabbed him through the towel and he bit me! I'm sure it would have punctured my finger if it weren't encased in towel. What an ingrate! A little courtesy to the person whose underwear he'd been enjoying would not have gone amiss.
I dumped him outside and vowed that THIS time I would put some new screen over the space where he was probably getting in.
(I make a policy of waiting until a problem repeats a few times before taking action, just in case a solution occurs spontaneously. You'd be surprised how often that happens.)
I knew if I waited long enough the problem possum(s) would eventually outgrow his/her/their favorite route to my underwear.
But I'm pretty sure I don't have that much patience.