Thursday, May 7, 2009

Plaing dead

I woke up at about 8 am this morning and walked into the kitchen, where Justin was standing.

"I learned something," he said.
"What?" I said, blurry.

"Possums can swim." He indicated out the window, where e tiny bedraggled beast was squatting next to the pool. "I fished it out a few minutes ago."

"He doesn't look so good," I said, as we watched the little rodent wobble around and then blindly aim for the pool again and wobble on its edge. Our pool is unheated and therefore frigidly cold even for people; tiny furry mammals would be lucky to last longer than a few minutes. And, as we found out later, possums can actually only swim for a few minutes and then they drown.

"Maybe we should put him in the trees?" I said, so we picked it up and put it in the trees, where it promptly staggered around so badly we were worried it was dying, then keeled over sideways and played dead. Not the right solution. "Maybe in the sun?"

We moved it over to the sunny patch of leaves. It got tangled up in a bunch of debris and sadly bumped its nose against the window grate to the basement of the big house. It was drunkenly staggering still, so I said, "Maybe we should wrap it up in a towel to keep it warm," and headed back inside to do what every middle-class white hipster city-dweller does: look up "possum retrieval" on Google.

Turns out, keeping it warm was absolutely the best thing we could have done. It sat complacently, blinking at both of us from between Justin's hands and a blue towel, eyes drooping occasionally, as I called WildRescue, then the "possum lady", then another possum lady. She suggested we put it in a box with hot water bottles and something to burrow under and then bring it over to her in Tujunga.

Having no hot water bottles, we instead filled several latex gloves with warm water and spread them around the little guy, wrapped it in dishclothes, and stuck it in a box. "Who's a bad possum?" Justin muttered lovingly as he arranged the little nest. "See Claire? She didn't save you. I saved you. I'm like your god. Love me! Kill her!" He aimed the part of the box where the possum's little head was at me and said, "Attack! Attack!"

That didn't work so well, since the possum mostly just nuzzled the gloves and twitched its little ears. So we took it to Tujunga. The lady met us in her driveway with a cardboard cat carrier, and when we effected the handover, our little possum stared up at us with its mouth open. "Are you yawning?" I asked it.

"No, it's trying to scare you," the lady said, and pulled out our little (as it turned out) girl. She lashed her little tail and glared at us and fiercely bared her teeth, which were miniscule and adorable and generally did not scare us at all. It's hard to be scary when you're six inches long and also have a prolapsed anus.

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