Saturday, February 6, 2010

I Told You They Have Opposable Big Toes!

We slept late. It’s been a hard week. This morning Sue looked out the back window at the snow in the yard and saw tracks. They seemed roughly triangular. Had a goose walked around in our yard this morning? Unheard of!

Realize: We were looking at them from the second floor.

Upon closer inspection, and double-checking on page 26 of the impressive cornucopia of mammal information that is The Wild Mammals of Missouri, 2d rev. ed., by Charles and Elizabeth Schwartz (whose text and illustrations are often lifted by many other authors and Internet sites), we realized it had been an opossum that wandered around our yard last night.

The Schwartzes write that female opossums are more likely to hunker down in frigid weather, so the chances are better that it was a male who visited.

The tracks are in pairs—left hand and left foot together, practically touching, then the right hand and right foot together, etc.

The hind feet leave quite unusual-looking prints on account of the big toe, which spreads out widely so that the left big toe is at about 4 or 5 o’clock, and the right one is positioned at about 7 or 8 o’clock—very distorted compared to how you might think they “should” be.

What a nice little gift from the critters last night. That Mr. Opossum snuffled around our yard last night makes me smile.

(For more about opossums and this blog, click here.)

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