I have a strange fascination with animals that can descend headfirst. There are very few animals capable of this feat. Well, there are very few when compared to the total number of animals we know about. Some types of leopards can do it, snakes can do it, squirrels can do it, and most certainly, opossums and raccoons can do it. It takes physical traits as well as ability to pull it off without flying face-first into the ground below. After all, think about climbing a tree and how you eventually had to get down. It’s the same way bears get down: ass first. That makes the descent more difficult since you don’t have a clear view of what you’re doing or where you’re going.
Anyway, I can’t explain why I’ve always been so fascinated with animals that can descend the same way they ascend. Perhaps it has to do with envy. If I can’t do something, I probably have a weird interest in those creatures that can. This is undoubtedly similar to flying, swimming deep for long periods of time without respiration equipment, or seeing well in the dark. Maybe it’s just a Superman complex in that I want to do all the impossible things I can’t do naturally.
The point of all this is that I accidentally scared a juvenile opossum (Virginia opossum; Didelphis virginiana) yesterday morning. While it seemed rather late for it to be out and about, opossums are generally nocturnal but aren’t required to be so like raccoons (Procyon lotor). This little guy was probably on his way to his daytime bed when he stumbled upon the cat food outside. When I stepped out to the patio, he scampered into the tree. Eventually, as long as I stood there quietly and without large or sudden movements, he became unable to see me and finally came down. Although I know he could smell me (they have an excellent sense of smell) and therefore knew I was still there, I also know the pile of cat food at my feet was very enticing.
I was able to capture his descent on video. Again, I’m just fascinated by the whole headfirst thing. Oh, and take note of the expert use of its prehensile tail.
By the way, that’s Vazra you hear in the background. The windows were open and he was talking up a storm. He does that when anything or anyone is outside.