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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Playing possum

Sad to say there was what appeared to be a dead opossum near my front door today. Blind as a bat, I didn't even see him when I went out to get the mail but my sister pointed him out when she came over. Poor little guy - he was gray, about the size of a large cat, with cute little ears. We moved him to the backyard for overnight in case he's not really dead ....

When threatened or harmed, they will "play possum", mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. When playing possum, the lips are drawn back, teeth are bared, saliva foams around the mouth, and a foul-smelling fluid is secreted from the anal glands. The physiological response is involuntary, rather than a conscious act. Their stiff, curled form can be prodded, turned over, and even carried away. The animal will regain consciousness after a period of minutes or hours and escape.

If you want to learn more about these marsupials, visit the Opossum Society of the United States.


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