A 'possum with his back to the wall is a fearsome thing when he's decided that you're going to harm him. After all, we're a lot bigger than him and he's probably going out of his mind with fear, but he won't show it. He'll snarl and hiss and spit until you back off and leave him alone. If that doesn't work he'll resort to his last line of defense; "playing possum".
This was the situation a few nights ago when my cat Spike came to the front door meowing. As soon as I let him in, he promptly went to the garage door and stretched his front leg out and touched his paw on the door knob. He's learned that this is the way to get someone to let him out. This was certainly strange behavior.
As soon as the door opened he shot inside the garage, leapt upon a chair that acted as a spring board to the chest freezer, where he hopped to the top of the refrigerator, then from there to the top of an old cabinet. By this time he was close to the ceiling, but it was also a great perch from which to see everything that was happening in the garage.
Spike was looking intently at the shelves containing partially filled cans of house paint that had been stacked there for several years. As I looked to see what my cat's stare was fixed on, one of the paint cans moved!
Actually the can didn't move but a scared and mad 'possum was pushing it out of his way! How he had made room for himself on those tightly packed shelves, I didn't have a clue. I couldn't figure out how he was going to get down without dislodging some of the paint cans. I just knew that this situation was not going to end pleasantly. I was right!
As I stood watching, with no warning, no screeching of nails being pulled out of the wall or any other indication that there was about to be a calamity, the whole thing broke and fell to the floor! The bracket holding the shelf, which was holding the paint cans and 'possum, succumbed to the added weight and collapsed! With a crash that alerted the neighbor next door, paint, shelves and possum all hit the floor at about the same time.
All this didn't seem to disturb Spike, for he was still peering down from his perch on top of the cabinet next to the ceiling. While I was looking at the cat, the 'possum took this opportunity to dash behind the refrigerator, hiss and show his teeth at me whenever I got too close.
My neighbor stuck his head through the door and asked if I was all right. He thought the whole thing was funny until he saw that two of the paint can lids had come open. There were splotches of bright yellow and sky blue paint on most of the contents on that side of my garage. He didn't ask if he could help clean up the mess.
For the last four years Spike and I've had problems with families of raccoons who had developed a taste for cat food. My cat is not a finicky eater; he'll eat any brand available and evidently so will the raccoons. One or two of them come by every night for a snack out of Spike's food dish. Now I had both a 'possum and a family of raccoons vying for the food in the cat's bowl.
I handled this varmint eradication problem the same way I handle the raccoon invasion. I turned off the light in the garage, opened the door to the outside and then went back to my favorite television show! The next time I checked on the 'possum he was gone!
There are many kinds of opossum repellants but none of them really work; my favorite is predator urine. This works on the assumption that if you spread the urine of an animal larger than the one your trying to run off, then that will strike fear in the heart of your unwanted varmint and he will leave! That didn't work with the raccoons so I don't have much faith that it'll work for the 'possum.
Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, fishing and leisure living. Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites at: [http://www.bluemarlinbob.com] | [http://www.redfishbob.com]