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will to live

On Monday, I was out for a morning run, not very far from home, when I came upon a possum that had been hit by a car. I was passing it, when I heard a wheezing, hissing, chirping sort of noise, and saw a little, blind, baby possum, with just a shadow of gray fuzz on its body, struggling by the side of the road. It had either been thrown there or had somehow managed to creep its way over. And then I saw that there was another, a little way off.

Those babies were in a desperate state, and trying so hard to stay alive.

So, I ran back home and came back in a car with a box. I picked up the two babies, looked for others, but didn't see any others that were alive. At home I wrapped a hot water bottle in a towel while wakanomori looked for wildlife rehabilitators that we could call. (yamamanama, you can bet I was thinking of you, but the place you volunteer at would be like two hours away, so I figured I'd try something closer.) Meanwhile those little babies were cheeping and wheezing away.

For those of you in Massachusetts, this page offers regional pages you can check out for this purpose. (For those of you not in Massachusetts, your state may have similar, or you can simply search on "wildlife rehabilitator.") Waka printed out the page for the Pioneer Valley, and I started calling.

It was still pretty early in the morning and no one was picking up. I left several messages, and at last got one woman, a vet, but she said that baby possums were difficult because they required tube feeding, and that she couldn't do it because she was traveling. She urged me to keep trying other numbers. At last I reached Medicine Mammals. The woman there told me she had a different method for feeding baby possums (involving a toothbrush--I guess they suck the bristles), and that she would take them.

She lives at the end of a dirt road, and the scene behind her house reminded me of Medwyn's Valley, for those of you who've read Taran Wanderer. When I opened the box to show her the possums, we saw that the two babies had made their way next to each other and were snuggled together.

After I turned them over to her and made a donation for her work, she invited me to come to the Pocumtuck Homelands Festival. "We'll have our tipi up and there'll be storytelling," she said. I was thinking, tipi?? The Native Americans in this area never made tipis. But it turns out she's Apache, so that explains it.

When I got home, I got a call from my town's Animal Control Officer. "Did you rescue some baby possums from George Hannum Road?" she asked. "Yes," I said, flabbergasted, because I hadn't called her, so how could she know? "Well, we removed the mother and there were other babies alive in her pouch, and I was wondering if you'd found a rehabilitator?" She must have been calling the same people I'd been calling, and they must have said that someone else from B-town was also calling about baby possums.

So I was able to tell her about Medicine Mammals, so maybe more of those sibling possums will make it.

The possums were at the eight-week stage pictured here (source)


( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 4th, 2016 02:57 pm (UTC)
Kudos to all of you for rescuing those little lives.
Aug. 4th, 2016 04:11 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad it happened--really glad someone was able to take them.
Aug. 4th, 2016 03:05 pm (UTC)
Looking forward to an update this w/e -- still amazed at the marsupial factor!
Aug. 4th, 2016 04:11 pm (UTC)
I'm nervous about their survival chances--they were so small! But with a strong will to live. I hope at least some survive.
Aug. 4th, 2016 03:13 pm (UTC)
I'm not all that fond of possums, but the little ones are adorable. I'm glad you were able to save them.
Aug. 4th, 2016 04:12 pm (UTC)
I'm not either! And at the tiny stage, they were more larval than adorable, but they were struggling so hard, and it was so sad to think of them as just doomed. I'm glad they have a fighting chance now.
Aug. 4th, 2016 03:26 pm (UTC)
What a story. How lucky for the babies struggling outside their mother's pouch that you found them, and how lucky for the babies inside that the Animal Control Office checked the pouch. I hope they will all make it. I'm glad you were able to find someone who could take them in.

There's a bit of magic in finding Medwyn's counterpart living in a valley nearby. I hope you'll be able to visit the festival. I look forward to your report on the festivities.
Aug. 4th, 2016 04:13 pm (UTC)
Me too--and yes, it really was a bit of magic. A good place.

I will report on the festival, if I go!
Aug. 4th, 2016 03:51 pm (UTC)
Oh, so glad they found the babies in the pouch in time! Bless you for taking care of the little critters and finding the right place for them.
Aug. 4th, 2016 04:14 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad they looked! I didn't think to. I hope they do survive.
Aug. 4th, 2016 04:39 pm (UTC)
I wish the baby possums well!

And how wonderful that the animal control officer was looking for a rehab for the other babies.
Aug. 4th, 2016 07:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm really glad all around. I hate that so many animals get hit by cars; I know there's not much help for it, but at least *sometimes* we can save some.
(no subject) - yamamanama - Aug. 5th, 2016 11:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 4th, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC)
This is so astonishingly darling, start to finish.
*takes notes*
Aug. 4th, 2016 07:25 pm (UTC)
I hardly believed our good luck--it so nearly didn't happen all along the way, but in the end, it **did** happen.
Aug. 4th, 2016 05:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, those poor little guys. I'm so glad you found them an expert. I hope they like the toothbrush all right.

I like possums. As our only native marsupial, they are special. Also they crack me up with their prehensile tails. We don't have many hereabouts, but one very very cold winter we had two adolescent ones at the bird feeder.

Aug. 4th, 2016 07:26 pm (UTC)
It is pretty amazing that we have this one marsupial! How did that happen?! How are they all on Australia, and then... possums!

(no subject) - pameladean - Aug. 4th, 2016 10:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 4th, 2016 07:54 pm (UTC)
I hope hope hope some of them make it. Thank you for helping them.
Aug. 5th, 2016 01:39 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it all somehow worked out--at least as far as getting them to the rehabilitator. I nearly *didn't* do anything; I thought they couldn't be saved. But then I changed my mind and thought I'd try. I hope I can remember always to try--in other circumstances too.
Aug. 4th, 2016 08:50 pm (UTC)
Lovely, lovely story! How I admire your determination (and wakanomori's)! I will remember to search on animal rehabilitator next time I have a challenge like that. And I hope we get to hear all about the festival and the Apache woman.
Aug. 5th, 2016 01:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, it definitely helps to know that there are people out there who do this--they get training and everything.
Aug. 4th, 2016 10:20 pm (UTC)
Sweet, sweet babies! I sure hope they survive. If you hear anything, will you let us know?

You are so awesome for saving them!!!
Aug. 5th, 2016 01:39 pm (UTC)
I will definitely let you know ♥
Aug. 5th, 2016 06:07 am (UTC)
Poor little muffins! but trying with all they could to stay alive, and knowing enough (without knowing they knew) to snuggle up close to each other. :) Hang in there, possums!
Aug. 5th, 2016 01:40 pm (UTC)
Yes! Hang in there ♥
Aug. 5th, 2016 07:38 am (UTC)
Glad you found a carer for them! Hope they pull through...
Aug. 5th, 2016 01:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the good wishes--I hope so too.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 5th, 2016 01:37 pm (UTC)
Me tooooo.
Aug. 5th, 2016 05:49 pm (UTC)

Aww. I love the number of people in this story who actually care about possums, which most people see as vermin. Have to say I'm a little scared of them myself after some close encounters with adults that resembled a cross between a giant rat and the shark from Jaws. But the babies are cute. Hopefully they all make it.
Aug. 6th, 2016 12:36 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about that actually--how possums aren't a very cute or lovable animal--and when I thought that, it made me want to help them extra more. Like, "There's room for you too, you somewhat ugly, somewhat aggressive, awkward creature; you, as much as any living thing, get to be rescued and cared for." .... This is the kind of maudlin thought I've had since I was a little kid, and then invariably I burst into tears (well, as a kid. Now I just get all wet-eyed.)
(no subject) - rachelmanija - Aug. 7th, 2016 09:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
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