Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A POSSUM ADVENTURE

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click pictures to enlarge.
The weather forecast is for rain today.  I had intended to take a motorcycle ride West out of Oakridge through the Big Southfork Wilderness and look for lakes suitable for canoeing.  The bike is a dirt road capable machine and that area is prolific with roads of gravel and hard packed dirt.
The family, dogs, haven't been out of the yard in seven days so I brought them to the old state park this morning rather than wait until late afternoon as usual.  Vivie, the little black and white terrier,  was adopted last Saturday and the lack of her presence is difficult to deal with.  I hope dogs have the ability to forget because I would hate for Vivie to be confused about where her buddies are.  She bonded very strongly to Douglas, Shade and Happy.  And, I adored her.  It is hard to let them go when the time comes.

Vivie:
Happy stood up bold and put a terminal stare on a big tree.  She growled softly all the while, standing as if a statue.  I expected to see a hunter or another dog walk over the little hill just ahead of us.  Instead, a medium size possum slowly, yet boldly, sauntered out from behind the tree.
Happy charged and stopped about ten feet from the critter, who turned and faced the little dog.
Shade and Douglas were out of site, thank heavens.  Happy stood her ground in front of the strange animal that was half as big as her.  Then all of a sudden, in an instant, the possum simply fell over on its side and lay still as if dead.  Nature has equipped the possum's system to go into shock when threatened.  The possum is indeed unconcious and appears dead.  But, in reality he is fine and will stand up and move along when the danger disappears.  If you look closely on the back of the possum you will see a wound.  I'm not sure if it had been shot or if maybe a hawk made an attempt on its life.  I would opt for the wound being caused by a gun.
Shade and Douglas returned and paid the apparently dead critter no attention.  Douglas did step over to it and sniff.  I said "no" as I do when they find dead animals, and he left it in peace.  Shade followed suite.
Shade's diabolical looking white eyes are caused by a camera flash.  When I examined the possum it had a ghastly look about it's face; tongue hanging out the side of its mouth and brown teeth.
It indeed appeared to be deceased.  The possum is another wild critter that receives little respect but, is uniquely gifted with the peculiar ability to feign death. 
Carnivores and raptors are excited by the chase and those animals that flee excite their pursuers even more.  The possum plays dead and thwarts the predatory instincts of those who would run him down and eat him.  It doesn't always work out for the possum but it's effective often enough. Coyotes, bears and vultures will eat carrion.  But, the "play dead" routine worked against the dogs and was interesting to watch.  I then simply got up and left with the guys following me.  Fear not.  In a few moments the possum will be up and into the brush and safety.  I never know what I'm going to run into out here.   It figures I'd leave the big camera at home.

  THERE'S A SQUIRREL IN HERE

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