One in the tree

After taking a walk to enjoy our touch o’ the frost on Wednesday, I returned home to see what photos I had captured.  Because windows surround my desk, I often catch sight of the various creatures sauntering about the area.  Digging through the photos I had captured while at the lake could not keep me from noticing just such a moment.  Something strolled by the window as it made its way under the bushes and around the patio.  Being the wildlife nut I am, I grabbed the camera and headed out to the patio.  I made it in time to see a juvenile Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) climbing the tree.

While it was still daylight, it had been cloudy all day, an appropriate accoutrement to the cold temperatures and ice-covered ground.  I did not feel it unusual to see the little beast out before dark since opossums are generally nocturnal but not necessarily only nocturnal.  The clouds kept it moderately dark anyway.

So I quietly stood against the fence and grabbed a few photos of the wee creature as it climbed into the tree and found a comfortable spot to wait for…  Well, I’m not quite certain what it was waiting for, but wait it did.

This has to be one of the several babies I watched grow up last year, and probably it’s one of the tiny bundles I saw Momma Possum carrying in her pouch as she foraged one night last summer (after seeing her very pregnant the previous April).  This tot certainly is not an adult yet.  It’s perhaps half to two-thirds the size of a full-grown opossum.  It’s still as large as a small cat, but I suspect it’s going to get much bigger—if it lives long enough.  Opossums in the wild generally don’t live more than two or three years (they can survive many times that long in captivity).

But listen to me prattle on!  I promised some possum pictures.  Let’s get to it then, shall we?

At first, it had tucked itself in amongst the branches.  My moving about to find a good spot didn’t help it relax.

A juvenile Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) hiding in the tree (167_6744)

The longer I stood still, the more comfortable it became.  They don’t see well at all, and their hearing isn’t impressive either.  They mostly rely on acute smell and touch.  That meant the longer I stood still and silent, the more difficulty it had determining if I was still there.  Eventually it began making its way down.

A juvenile Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) hiding in the tree (167_6771)

It finally climbed into the lowest part of the tree.  It was so near I could have reached out and touched it.  But I know better.  Unfortunately, it was also close enough to smell me despite a favorable wind direction.  It froze and stared right at me.  Although I knew it really couldn’t see me and I wasn’t moving, its eyes fixed in my direction as it waited and watched.  I realized then I was interfering with its plans, so I snapped a few final pictures before going inside.

A juvenile Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) hiding in the tree (167_6765)

Before I even reached the desk, it had climbed down out of the tree.  I walked directly to the windows and saw it already on the ground and heading along the patio fence toward the lake.  It was gone in an instant.

[as usual, let me point out those creepy little hands in the last photo; I just love those!]

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