Playin’ Possum? Impossumble…

An opossum, recently

For some time now, I have been treading carefully when mowing the lawn (which is now no longer necessary despite our mild weather this year) and raking the leaves. The reason for this is that a mysterious creature had been leaving rather smelly bundles of scat scattered (love that alliteration!) throughout the yard.

The mysterious creature has been identified, as I was suddenly jolted from the comfort of the smallest room in the house to see our visitor sitting on the fence. Not politically speaking, of course.

Well, this being America, it did not take long before my spouse Dr. N. heard the sound of something colliding with the back wall of our house. And then again. Rushing to the upstairs window with the greatest vantage point, we watched in horror as the neighbor from across the way aimed a rifle at the opossum. The sounds we had heard were probably pellets from the air rifle hitting the wall of our house.

Well, I realize that for some these critters may do damage to the garden/yard/property, but sometimes the hunter-gatherer instincts are too much. With some loud shouting the rifle bearing neighbor reluctantly put down his weapon. Dr. thought she may have seen some blood on our furry friend, but we are hoping he/she got away.

About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of about 10 students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery that is now in press! All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising. http://www.stevecaplan.net
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22 Responses to Playin’ Possum? Impossumble…

  1. Stephen Moss says:

    In the UK the law is clear on these matters, and I quote “it is an offence for the pellet to go beyond the boundary of the premises on which the gun is being used unless there is permission from the adjoining landowner”. I guess in the US where discharging firearms is probably less of an offence than breaking wind, your neighbour can fire his gun into your premises with impunity. Either way, I think I’d be seriously annoyed, regardless of my feelings for the furry visitor.

  2. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    The raccoons that often visit our garden (and sometimes even come into the house – I leave the back door open for the cats if I’m home during daylight hours) are rather vicious critters that refuse to back away even when you’re yelling and waving a broom right in their face. However, a well-aimed jet of water from a garden hose works wonders. No need to call in the rifle brigade… if someone was hitting my house with air rifle pellets, I think I’d be calling the police PDQ!

  3. cromercrox says:

    Given your training in the IDF, I’d say that driving a tank across the neighbour’s yard and flattening his house with a well-aimed blast from a howitzer is an appropriate and proportionate response to his peppering your house with air gun pellets. (Runs away).

    Oh, BTW, we don’t have possums at the Maison des Girrafes.

    Yet.

  4. ricardipus says:

    I believe Opossums live here in Southern Ontario too, but I’ve never seen one. Raccoons, on the other hand, are widely believed to outnumber people in the Toronto area. That may or may not be true, but they’re everywhere, including the back yard of Chateau Ricardipus. And their smelly scat splats can be full of a very dangerous roundworm.

    If fuel consumption is an issue, you could always mount a .50 cal or a 30mm cannon or something similar on your Prius. Just sayin’.

    • Steve Caplan says:

      I knew I should have bought the one with a sun-roof. Perfect for mounting a turret (and not the syndrome, either).

      We too have raccoons, but I didn’t realize their scat posed such danger.

  5. Grant says:

    We have possums here, too. They’re not native to NZ and they are considered pests. Traps are laid, or they are shot. In fact, my local botanical gardens is closed some nights for a possum shoot. The first time I saw the warning notices “suggesting” people not come into the gardens in certain evenings, it took me by surprise.

    • Steve Caplan says:

      Just out of curiosity, why was it merely a “suggestion” that people not show up in the gardens during open season? And was Dick Cheney ever there?

      • Grant says:

        It’s more than a suggestion, hence the inverted commas ;-)

        And was Dick Cheney ever there?

        Nah, Dick Cheney couldn’t shoot a fly at 5.08 centimetres.

  6. Cromercrox says:

    We have neither opossums or raccoons in Norfolk. We do, however, have the Black Shuck. http://norfolkcoast.co.uk/myths/ml_blackshuck.htm

    • Steve Caplan says:

      There’s nothing like real, down-to-earth, source-verified journalism.

      • cromercrox says:

        The best thing about the Black Shuck is that sightings are most concentrated on the coast between Sheringham and Overstrand. And guess who’s right between the two? Yes, Cromer. In fact, I’m sure the Black Shuck lives in our street.

  7. Steve Caplan says:

    As for this: “We Cromerites fart in your general direction, you silly Monsieur Steve Caplan and his silly kerniggits!”

    1) We in Omaha do NOT smell of Elderberries, nor do our fathers (last time I checked)
    2) Monsieur S. Hussein, formerly of Baghdad, had us well trained in the use of gas masks

  8. ricardipus says:

    Nothing like that Shuck here in Ontario. You’d need to go pretty far to find something similar (like the west coast, where they have both Bigfoot and the Ogopogo).

    Coyotes and bears, we can do. Maybe even the occasional Cougar/Panther/Mountain Lion. And my dad will happily tell you a lengthy story about an escaped Hippopotamus.

  9. Steve Caplan says:

    We have a fish restaurant on our street celled “Shucks.” Great mussels.