Returning from work one evening I pulled into the driveway and saw a possum sitting in the middle. Literally caught in the headlights, he looked in terror and then turned around and started to hop away. But his top speed was snail pace, because missing is his back right leg and all of his tail. The loud sound of the engine and the bright lights of the car were more than enough to scare him, pissing himself as he hobbled away, almost as a token effort since he was moving so slow. I turned off the lights and parked on the street It was a sad moment and not the only one I’ve had with ‘ol Stumpy. He’s lived in our garden for years, and as long as we’ve known him, he’s always been three-legged and tailless. I would say he’d been attacked by a dog or cat as a young possum, but I haven’t been able to get a really close look at the damage. Despite his condition, he’s preserved and seems to have been living here relatively happily for a while now.
As a climbing animal, it can’t be an easy life missing those parts. I have seen him climb down vines before, but after observation it’s clear he prefers pathways with stairs. To that end he’s set up shop in two places: on top of the carport, hidden under dense vines, or next to the door of my room, under the carport in a corral where we keep recycling and other random bits and pieces. He uses the front and back steps to get between them. We set up a series of bricks next to the corral to make a small stairway to make it easy for him to get over the edge. The rest of the possum population here live large in our compost bin – there’s no point keeping a lid on it. Their size is at least double Stumpy’s, and there’s no doubt the little guy is at a major disadvantage. He can’t climb into the bin because he can’t get out again. Around that area there’s a chance some scraps escape the heap, but apart from that i guess it’s a diet of insects and spiders (I don’t actually know, i’m not a possum scientist). One time I gave him a peach. He’ll also take opportunities to drink from the cat’s water bowl, once he stayed there drinking for what would have been a good 5 minutes, he must have been very thirsty. I’ve also spotted him checking out the top of the stairs where the cats eat, or when they’re being unreasonably picky, leaving their dinners.
Presley seems to leave him alone… I think despite missing those appendages, you wouldn’t want to be a small cat being bitten by a possum. With winter coming on, I wonder if we’ll be seeing him under cover more often. Well, whatever the case I’ll assist poor ol Stumpy when I can. I consider him part of the tribe.