continuing the wild and wacky adventures of wildlife carers…


Part of the extensive garden. Sometimes, I actually had roses!

We were not to know,  when Spike had that disagreement with another possum, that we were about to be gate-crashed.

Spike left us early in December and although we half-expected him to come back from time to time, we were not surprised that he didn’t. Nature’s hard-wiring usually beats human “interference.”

Besides, there were other things needing attention. With  holidays looming, the duty roster (we took turns to answer after-hours calls for help) suddenly featured our telephone number more often! And The Man’s mother was coming to stay. I didn’t want calls at all hours while she was here so I did extra time beforehand.

And there was some re-arranging of the spare/sewing/writing/junk room to be done.

Everything ordered and slotting nicely into place, yes? Well, not quite…

When we built the house we stopped  the walls of the central hallway about 18″ short of the rafters (open-plan with exposed ceiling beams), to allow for greater air flow. And to be a bit “different” from most other houses!

Biskit, one of the cats, used to like sleeping on a shelf above the water heater in the bathroom and, from there , she could climb onto the top of the wall and swing from rafter to rafter til she reached the kitchen. Then she’d jump down to the fridge, then the counter, then the floor. Until one day she mis-judged her swing and fell from the ceiling! So The Man added an “extension” piece of rafter, making it too far for her to stretch her paw around. Boy! was she cross at that!

Where was I?  Oh yes…On the opposite side of the hall was the spare room, with a built-in cupboard. Open at the top. And this is the cupboard that was to become the home of our next possum.

At night, with mosquitoes and other bugs bothering us, we closed the doors when the lights were on and opened a back door at lights-out.

Jolly convenient for the New Boy! He’d rock up at about 4am, scrabble around in the kitchen and wake me. I’d grab him by the tail* and take him down the yard, into the goats’ paddock and tell him to “go find a hollow tree!”

And he’d be back up at the house before me!

One morning, after this ridiculous ritual, he went up the wall and over the edge and into the spare room cupboard before I could catch him. I could see the little bugger on the top shelf, blinking at me! And he used the Biskit Method of getting to the kitchen, much to her disgust!

I’d had enough of 4am possum patrols. As far as I was concerned he could stay there. Anyone who wanted to evict him could do it with my blessing. But not my help.

And then Mother arrived and I had to explain that she’d have a room mate. I think she was a bit nervous at first and afraid room mate might mean bedmate!

Sooty Paws (I’ll leave you to figure out how he got that name!) lived with us for about 7 years. Longer than many survive in the wild.

2008_1218oldiestamborine0010The front pergola – aka Possum Highway

* This is not cruel; possums evolved for a life in trees and the muscular tail is used for grasping, swinging, balance. Also, you’re clear of those sharp bits when you are holding the tail!

10 thoughts on “THE SOOTY PAWS SAGA

  1. Love these last two posts. They just serve to punctuate the huge difference between your climate and mine, especially as it’s -11C out there right now. (I don’t remember the last time it was this cold here.) Love the photo of feeding time at the zoo and did you know I once had a grey cat named Spike? Is that where you live now? I didn’t know you’d built it. What year was it?


  2. Andrea, your brain is frostified! No, the pictures are not of this place. They are somewhat faded photos of the former home which we built, after a builder did the initial work.
    The garden photos were taken about 2000. The Spike pics in the previous post would have been around 1994.


  3. my best friend in jr. hi had a pet possum. completely different from y’alls possum, this one was the size of a fat housecat and was far too lazy to climb. actually made a good pet.
    but wild ones? ohhhhh, different story completely.
    when i got to the part where you picked it up by the tail i gasped. possums here? nonononono, they’ll go all UP on you, dawg! thats why we usually just hit them with cars.


  4. ziggi…the open-top walls were a “good thing”, especially when the mercury hit 40! Wild possums become quite tame if regularly fed. But they still are best admired, not cuddled! And you and yours have a wonderful Christmas ,too.

    fn…I know nothing about American possums, though I recall freinds once had to call Critter Catch to remove one from their crawl space. Is s’pose they’re like other animals-trainable if you start young.

    tara…well, Mother actually became quite good with Sooty, even coping when she house sat for us! But I’m sure if we’d had another bedroom she’d have de-camped!


  5. You are so very good about these wild things. The only animals allowed inside my house are cats and dogs. Period. I have a friend who won’t even let THEM in.
    We rented a house in St. John, USVI for a week’s vacation one summer and the bathroom had no ceiling – just open to the outdoors, and geckos climbed the shower walls all the time. It was kind of cool, but just for a week.


  6. kate…well, you can’t have lacy curtains and Waterford crystal and antique porcelain knocking about. Or they’ll be knocked about! Bit like unruly toddlers, really.


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