Playing Possum

Let me tell you a little story about the wonderful wild kingdom that is my backyard in Sacramento, California.

Last night, we arrived home after dark, my dog Simon shooting straight through the back door to bark at something in the yard. Given the after dark status, we immediately started calling, “Treat, treat,” his usual cue back into the house. No luck.

Oh no, I thought, please, please don’t be another skunk. See, he always comes for a treat, unless there is something better than a treat to chase in the backyard.

Thankfully, my husband was on call to go after him, returning moments later with an unusual claim.

“Luna killed a possum.”

No way, I thought, our cat is not tough enough to kill a possum.

“Okay, better get out that man card and get to work,” I replied. Selective sexism at its best. I refuse to touch dead or half dead animals, much to Alex’s chagrin.

Moments later, Alex returns.

“Hey, umm, have you ever heard of that expression ‘playing possum’?”


My husband then explained to me that possums are known for playing dead. Sure, I thought, wishful thinking, you just don’t want to shovel such a big, nasty creature into the trash.

“Give it some time, I guess,” I replied, doubtful.

Now curious, I peered out the back window, flashlight in hand, hopeful not to see some sort of disgusting dead possum or, worse, two creepy little eyes staring back at me. Alex did warn me its eyes were stuck open.

Instead, nothing.

The possum was gone. Apparently, playing possum is a real thing, not just something my husband made up as not to have to dispose of another carcass brought to our doorstep by Luna. Good thing Alex didn’t try to lift the poor creature into the trash. That would have been a very unpleasant surprise…

Moral of the story, if you see a lifeless possum, give it some time. Like at least fifteen to twenty minutes. You may not have to deal with it after all.

Was pretty sure this ferocious beast was not responsible for a possum death…

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4 thoughts on “Playing Possum

  1. kingmidget says:

    Years ago … when my oldest was around a year old and a neighbor watched him during the day, I came home, went to get him and got back to the house. “Um, the dogs are barking at something in the backyard, could you go look?” the wifey said. Brave man that I am I marched into the backyard and found the dogs barking at an immobile object. Laying on its back, paws up in the air, one of the ugliest things I had ever seen. “I think it’s dead,” I told the wifey. I went to get the shovel. Prodded the dead thing with the business end of the shovel and BAM it was off, scurrying along the fence line and disappear under our gate out to our street. I think I lost five years of my life that day.

  2. We were pretty sure we had a possum living under our house when I was in college because we always saw it walking across our yard at night. Turns out, there was a whole family down there — one night, we saw it walking across the yard with 3 little babies following it!

    They seem cute, but once they open their mouths and bare their disgusting sharp teeth they’re positively horrifying!! Definitely not something a cat can take on 😉

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