September 21, 2010

"Brooklyn is now overrun with rats and opossums."

"A few years ago, officials in Brooklyn, New York came up with a seemingly brilliant idea to deal with the rat-infestation problem in their borough: release opossums into the neighborhood to eat the rats...."

Ha. Of course, like rats, they prefer garbage. No shortage of that.

"The critters have a mouth full of 50 sharp teeth, tend to exude a foul odor, and can occasionally contract rabies... They are nocturnal, and some Brooklynites have become terrified to go into their yards at night."


Oh, Brooklynites! I thought youse guys were tough.

Time to bring in some wolves, I think. They eat rats.

97 comments:

Seven Machos said...

I say mongooses and wolverines.

jjm said...

Damn it Althouse. You need a warning on these posts. Wolves indeed! I will clean my keyboard tomorrow (cheap wine!).
Jim

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Oh, Brooklynites! I thought youse guys were tough.

I have to speak in defense of Brooklynites. Not that I know any Brooklynites; but opossums are tough little survivors. There was once one in our neighborhood that was killing our barn cats. One night, my sister managed to corner him. She grabbed the nearest farm implement (a pitchfork) and skewered him to the ground. He responded by attacking the tines. Yes, he was fighting for his life, but the ferocity was impressive.

My brother-in-law grabbed the next-nearest (an axe), and tried to behead the beast. With two pitchfork tines through him, the opossum was still so fast and furious that my brother-in-law couldn't get a good swing at him. It took four tries to get him.

I've seen trapped animals fight for their lives before. Outside of nature films, I've never seen anything fight as fiercely as that opossum.

Megaera said...

@Seven Machos: Ah, can't say as to the wolverines -- though I wouldn't much care for the job of trying to collect them in the first place -- but mongooses (mongeese?) have already been tried and found rather spectacularly wanting. In Hawaii, as it happens. In another really brilliant effort at rodent control. They were imported to deal with an exploding rat population on the theory that the only thing meaner and faster than a rat is a weasel (read mongoose), and at least the mongoose is cleaner than a rat any road. So, in they brought them, and as you might expect, the mongooses flatly refused to have anything to do with the rats (no fools they) and immediately turned their attention to easier and slower game -- the native birds, whose populations they've been whittling down even more energetically than the local cat populations which they also out-breed, the prolific little devils. You see them everywhere on the Big Island, little tan blurs out the corner of your eye ... I reckon they're better than a possum any day, though. What a profoundly useless (and unattractively unpleasant) critter. Only a civil servant could conclude that a possum would be helpful in rat containment.

Revenant said...

After they introduce wolves, they'll have to introduce gun-toting rednecks to shoot the wolves.

Kensington said...

Yup, I can confirm this. Over the last few years it's been a common site to have these vicious little f*ckers come right up to my screen door.

I should have guessed there was an "official" somewhere at the root of this problem.

Seven Machos said...

What is Tom Delay doing these days? He has the know-how.

Big Mike said...

Time to bring in some wolves, I think. They eat rats.

And if the wolves take to eating garbage, what eats wolves?

Synova said...

Terriers.

The thing about this is... human places already have the best pest predators there are... dogs and cats. If the dogs and the cats aren't doing to the rats what they do to the song birds, some other critter isn't going to do better.

Synova said...

"After they introduce wolves, they'll have to introduce gun-toting rednecks to shoot the wolves."

Hums...

I knew an old woman, she swallowed a fly
I don't know why, she swallowed the fly

(etc.)

wv: plapus

Megaera said...

Synova -- have you SEEN the rats in New York? Terminator would think twice before messing with those damn things, let alone some dog or housecat that wasn't interested in trying something on with a rabid buzz saw.

that-xmas said...

Hawaii has a big problem with mongooses that were brought in to kill the rats. The mongooses are voracious and eat all sorts of birds and amphibians.

The don't eat the rats though...the rats are active at night, and mongooses are active during the day.

The Musket said...

The book's already been written - it's called "The King, the Mice and the Cheese." It's a Dr. Seuss Club book, available on Amazon. The moral of the story - meddling doesn't work.

q12345q6789 said...

If the Simpsons has taught me anything, and it has, it's that this process ends with silverback gorillas and pythons roaming the streets - also related prescience from Futurerama wherein future New York is infested with Barn owls.

Drat it Democrats! Is there nothing your good intentions via governmental solutions can't f*ck up?

Maybe better messaging is called for - Like "OPossums are O'boy Delicious says Obama!" (get Shepard Fairey on the line) - and filled with cheap protein for those all those hungry unemployed people (too bad it's so expensive to get a gun in NYC).

Synova said...

We had possums in California.

The adults are huge.

But a good rat dog... well, they're called rat dogs because that's what they're for... They might not take on an adult Possum, but mine did a quick and dirty job on the juveniles. Crunch!

The Golden Retriever just picked them up and dropped them again.

But... you're not supposed to let your dogs roam, and wild dog packs probably wouldn't be any more of an improvement than the wolves.

Coyotes are moving into cities though. Coyotes and foxes.

dick said...

In my neighborhood i Queens I have seen a lot of raccoons. They move quite well also. A couple of families of them around and I have a neighbor whose idea of lawn care is to chop the weeds down twice a year. The raccoons love to run around in there. I sure would not want to mess with them. They can get really nasty.

Palladian said...

What about badgers?!

Dick Stanley said...

Eat More Possum.

Turn that possum round, boys, turn that possum round.

Dick Stanley said...

And don't miss the Possum Cookbook. This is greasy, gamey meat, but it's real survival food in a time of economic, uh, dislocation.

http://www.tngenweb.org/tntable/possum.htm

Fred4Pres said...

I dated a girl once and we were heading home after an argument. As we rounded the bend to her home, there were two possums in the road. One dead and one alive.

She burst into tears and said, "Look it is so torn up over losing its mate."

At that point the living possum ripped a chunk of flesh from the dead one and tossing its head back like a crocodile, swallowed it.

I said, "Yeah, it looks really torn up."

We broke up the next day.

Methadras said...

Megaera said...

Synova -- have you SEEN the rats in New York? Terminator would think twice before messing with those damn things, let alone some dog or housecat that wasn't interested in trying something on with a rabid buzz saw.


The first time I was ever in New York was to do some schlock job that Seimens hired me for and sent to for a six month stint in NYC back in 1987 - 1988. I'd never been to NYC, but I had a few friends that lived there in Brooklyn and Queens. So I get everything set up to go there from San Diego (my home town) and I don't know what to expect. So I fly into NYC and take a taxi to the hotel that the company set me up at until I could get an apartment or whatever to stay in. So as I get my luggage, I grab a taxi and I tell him to take me to the hotel. So we are about 20 minutes into the taxi ride from Laguardia we get into, I don't know, 60th or something like that heading towards the Plaza Hotel. So I'm leaning forward talking to the taxi driver and he was a nice Joe and the taxi starts to swerve towards this dog I see out the front windshield in the distance and I'm like, "WOAH!!! WOAH!!! WOAH!!! Hey man, look out for that dog. Don't hit the dog!!!" now it's dark, I'd say around 8 - 9 in the evening so to me it looks like a dog in the middle of the street, the guy yells out, "That ain't no fuckin' dog, that's a rat and I nail them whenever I see'em!!!" and I was like, holy shit, that's a rat, that thing was like the king of all rats. It was monstrous, it was huge!!! I couldn't believe how big that thing was. It was like the size of a small dog and the tail!!! Holy shit. HUGE!!! Still makes me shiver when I think about it.

Well, it was clear that this thing was used to cars gunning for it because when it saw that taxi coming for it, it ran like a bat out of hell right into the storm drain as the taxi went by and the driver was pissed, "SHIT!!! GOD DAMN RATS!!! I ALMOST HAD YOU, YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!" as he yells out past it. He looks back at me and says, "Sorry pal, I hate those things like they were Satan himself. One of them nearly killed my baby brother in his crib when I was a kid..." and he left it at that. It's nuts how big those things get.

Now the roaches?!?!?!

traditionalguy said...

LOL! That was funny. Then they will have to bring in the Momma Grizzlies to eat the wolves. Its all another Palin trick! And we know that she is a wild life mastermind who only wants to rake in loot so she can buy Madison Avenue clothes to sit on her porch and scare Russians.

rhhardin said...

Cane toads.

Skyler said...

About 15 years ago, some people were proposing reintroducing the grizzly bear to the Los Angeles mountains. I wonder if they eat possums. Eh, we wouldn't have to worry because they'll have eaten all the people before they get around to possums.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Snakes.

Then, in a few years, we can hear
"Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes in motherfucking White Plains"!

Moose said...

Kinda makes people leery about the government's claims about Global Climate Disruptors, or whatever they're calling it now.

Cedarford said...

Seven Machos said...
I say mongooses and wolverines
================
My money is on the two critters now chowing down on rats and possums all over Florida - snakes and foxes. Particularly the snakes. The non-native brown snake and Burmese python are absolute murder on them. Along with native rattlesnakes and king snakes.

I'd go with breeding a mix of poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, all agressive snakes like on "Snakes of a Plane" - and put dozens of bagfuls of them from the snake nurseries right into Brooklyn. The other Boroughs, with heavy rat problems, too. Escpecially the Bronx and Manhattan north of 125th street.

The Ruling Elites have tried to gentrify the third of Manhattan gone to waste on people that should be relocated to some locale like NOLA or Detroit. You let 80,000 poisonous snakes loose and 15,000 pythons each capable of growing to 25 feet and 300 lbs in Harlem or the Bronx, all the black people will pack up, be gone in a month.
HIspanics will stay to rehab all the vacated black real estate, whites will move in, and the Asians will stay to eat the free and abundant snakes.

Moose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shanna said...

These people voluntarily brought in a bunch of possums? That's just insane. Did anyone bother to even google them before they did that? Idiots!

Paddy O said...

"After they introduce wolves, they'll have to introduce gun-toting rednecks to shoot the wolves."

The Tea-Party takeover will then be complete.

The best nefarious plots are unexpected. While everyone was distracted by Pat Robertson and Blackwater, the real cabal was working behind the scenes to release the opossums. Sure, it makes sense. It's obvious now that we see where it's going. But completely unexpected. Like all right wing takeovers, it all began with the rats...

Shanna said...

And is there a reason they didn't try cats?

Shanna said...

Cats come in sizes larger than "housecat". I'm sure they could take care of the rates. I always wanted an oscelot when I was a kid.

Pogo said...

And these are the same geniuses that are taking over health care.

Rats and pointy-teethed possums.
Guess where grandma's goin' when her lifetime Medicare spending allotment runs out? NYC!

Shanna said...

Wiki tells me that ocelot's eat possums! And they're pretty!

Look how easy these problems are to solve :)

Pogo said...

Are there ocelittles that eat rats?

Sorry.

Paddy O said...

And when the wolves get out of control.

It's time to bring in Sarah Palin.

Hagar said...

Coyotes are moving in for a reason.

Pogo said...

Where's the Pied Piper when you really need him?

MadisonMan said...

Officials in Brooklyn

Presumably these nameless bureaucratic officials have names. Why not name them in the article so the taxpayers know who makes these lame decisions. Otherwise, the taxpayers will just assume it's not their representative that is stupid, it's everyone else's.

Journalistic Fail.

AJ Lynch said...

Take away their salt & cigarettes and they will move on.

Clyde said...

Q. Why is Brooklyn overrun with rats and opossums while Washington D.C. is overrrun with Democrat politicians?

A. Brooklyn had first choice.

knox said...

We are taking a vacation to NYC next week. I was worried about bedbugs! Now this...

knox said...

In my early 20s I had a job where I worked until midnight or so. One night, walking from the parking lot to my apartment, I encountered a possum. Almost stepped on it. It hissed at me.

I guess it is possible to be so terrified you can't even scream, because that's what happened to me.

MadisonMan said...

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned rat poison?

Triangle Man said...

What about badgers?!

There was one there for a while, but they sent her back.

Shanna said...

It hissed at me.

A few years back, the dogs were outside and they started barking like mad at about 3 am. I got up to figure out what was going on because they would not shut up and it turns out there was a possum on the fence, hissing. The dog kept jumping up trying to get it and it kept hissing back. We got a big stick and tried to knock it off the wall and it would not go. Finally knocked it off, but it came back up in a second. Those things are freaky looking at night!

Pogo said...

BTW, I am very hurt by all the negative talk here about possums.

**sniff**

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Now the roaches?!?!?!

And bedbugs

And panhandlers, crackwhores etc.

Remind me again why New York is so wonderful.

MadisonMan said...

Remind me again why New York is so wonderful.

Well, it is a cog in the USA's economic engine. Vital? Maybe not -- it's not like it couldn't be replaced or anything, but the upheaval would be pretty intense.

ndspinelli said...

My brittany spaniel and golden retriever double teamed a possum and put it down w/ dispatch. For the uninformed dog people, brittanys and goldens are cupcakes. Additionally, I grew up in Ct., went to school w/ Brooklynites in Pa. They only talk tough, and are the consummate bullshitters.

jerryofva said...

I have a couple of coonhounds. A little red tick named Angela and a rather large Plott Hound named Jethro. Angela would just love to run down a possum and chop on it. I'm not sure about Jethro. Plotts think running down Bear and Wild Boar are "da bomb".

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=plott+hound&qpvt=plott+hound&FORM=Z7FD#focal=2d5a67961e28f164e1fb47acdcdc6b76&furl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.whitedeerpreserve.com%2FVon%2520Plott%25202%2520-%252030%2520Oct%25202007.JPG

I'm not even sure he would notice a possum but if Angela is having a bit of trouble I am sure he would be happy to help out his girlfriend.

MadisonMan said...

We had a golden/chow mix -- a real sweetheart -- that killed a groundhog once with a quick grab and shake. Never tested her with a possum, but I think the same outcome would have occurred.

Not sure what our present dog would do. He's only 25 pounds and is dumb as a box of Politicians. Chases a squirrel to a tree and then doesn't realize where the squirrel has gone.

Fred4Pres said...

possums, and roaches, and rats...oh my!

AllenS said...

You hire about 10,000 young boys, arm them with pellet guns, and give a bounty on rats. $1 or $2 would probably do it per rat. Possums could be worth $4. Just bring in a tail to collect the bounty.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You hire about 10,000 young boys, arm them with pellet guns, and give a bounty on rats. $1 or $2 would probably do it per rat. Possums could be worth $4. Just bring in a tail to collect the bounty.

But..but...but.... that would involve violence and icky guns.

We can't have THAT. Maybe if all the people in Brooklyn would just clap their hands together and wish really really hard, the rats will disappear.

Or...I know this guy with a flute that plays a compelling tune.

John said...

Large raptors and owls would solve the rat problem. And liberal gun laws with a bounty on opossums would solve that problem. There is nothing more fun than a varmint hunt.

lemondog said...

Remind me again why New York is so wonderful.

No trans fats or is that transcendentalism or maybe transfers......anyway trans something.

Time to bring in some wolves, I think. They eat rats.

We are discussing DC here?

Pogo said...

We should ask PETA to help solve this.

R.L. Hunter said...

Palladian said...

What about badgers?!


We don't need no stinking Badgers!

Quaestor said...

This brings to mind a talk the late Michael Crichton gave titled "Fear and Complexity and Environmental Management in the 21st Century"

edutcher said...

Your tax dollars at work (somebody had to say it). This is government incompetence at its best.

Those who talk about dogs are on the right track. Yorkshire terriers were bred for rodent control. Mind you, I can't see Sherlock or Quasy roaming Flatbush, but I'll bet somewhere in Cornwall (or Yorkshire, for that matter), some of the descendants of the original Yorkies are still work dogs, doing their thing.

That would be the obvious, rational answer here, but we are talking about government, after all, particulary Democrats at the unions' beck and call.

TMink said...

May I volunteer as a gun toting redneck? I have bona fides in the southerner part of my resume, and I own two guns. Now I am not a hunter, but I would make an exception for my distressed brothers and sisters in the Burroughs.

I bet I can even find a nice possum recipe, but I don't promise to eat any.

Trey

Pogo said...

I'm sure if we explained our commitment to diversity and multiculturalism, the rats and possums would see their way to reducing their populations.

Greg said...

I don't suppose anyone proposed just cleaning the dump up, thereby getting rid of the food supply for the critters?

Richard Fagin said...

Opossums are increadbly mean and nasty. Get near one trapped in a cage and you'll find out what I meant by that. If New York didn't have such draconian restrictions on firearms, a good old fashioned possum shoot would have that problem solved in no time.

On returning home from my daily predawn walk with the Great Dane, she stopped in her tracks at the end of my driveway. Sure enough, a posssum was lying there motionless on the edge of the lawn. I took the free end of the dog's leash (that had a heavy steel binder) and proceeded to beat the hell out of the possum. It was clear where the phrase "playing possum" came from. I knew it wasn't dead because it flinched slightly with each whack.

Came back 1/2 hour later to find the possum gone! I should have just shot it, but I'm not in the habit of carrying sidearms when I walk the dog, this being Texas notwithstanding.

John Cunningham said...

I checked with a couple of my good ole boys from the Kentucky hills at our dog park today, and they agreed with me that it is beyond preposterous to think that possums could kill rats. Possums are strictly scavengers, no way could they move fast enough to take down a rat.

Shanna said...

Possums are strictly scavengers, no way could they move fast enough to take down a rat.

If they had just checked wikipedia they would have learned that. And also that they love fruit! Why on earth would anyone think this was a good idea? Clearly anyone who thought it would be awesome to import some possum's has never seen a possum. (I refuse to call them opossoms).

jerryofva said...

Richard:

And your dog just stood there? At least my red tick would have gone nuts and just snapped in half!

jerryofva said...

oops. forgot the noun...should read "snap it in half

John Burgess said...

@Clyde: DC has both plagues, rats+possums+raccoons AND politicians. As a 'federal enclave,' people living there didn't get any choice, other than to seek a lubricant or not.

WV: throwthl throwing in the towel...

holdfast said...

In our Jersey neighborhood we have a sizable population of feral cats. Good-hearted folks put out some food for them, and they help us by keeping the rats and mice under control. Unfortunately there does not seem to be much to be done about the possums - my junior dog likes to bark at them, but they know to stay up high and out of his way.

I'm liking the bounty idea - maybe with a .22 rimfire sport target pistol?

Bruce Hayden said...

I would agree that possums were the wrong pick for rats. But I don't see bears being much help. They are opportunistic omnivores, and the garbage around there would be easier than chasing possums.

I think that the solution for rats are either larger cats or packs of canines. And the later would probably work with the possums too. Not sure how well coyotes would work - I think that wolves or their descendants, would be more effective. They are bigger, and hunt in bigger packs.

But that can obviously cause problems of its own. You get enough dogs together, and they somewhat revert.

I remember back in the 1970s around Breckenridge (CO), where everyone had to have a large dog - retrievers, huskies, etc. But then they would go to work and let the dogs run. Pretty soon they were running in packs of a half dozen or bigger during the day. Everyone thought that it was humorous when they started taking mini (lap) dogs. Not so funny when they attacked a baby. Has been a leash law in the county since. (But throughout most of the county, you can shoot most anything that isn't endangered, officially hunted, or considered a typical family pet).

I should also add that there is a rapidly growing issue concerning wolf reintroduction in the west. The assertion seems to be that the wrong type of wolf was reintroduced - it is bigger and hunts in bigger packs than the indigenous wolves that were killed off by our ancestors.

AllenS said...

I shoot every possum that I see. They are very slow. They do not have very good eyesight, and you can get fairly close to them if you take your time, and don't make any noise. Nothing beats a problem like a bullet to the head.

Original Mike said...

I ocassionly see an opossum in my yard. A couple of winters ago, one made a nest underneath the air conditioner cover. I pulled it off in the spring and baby possums headed for the hills.

What's the big deal?

Gabriel Hanna said...

"Bart the Mother":

Our top story, the population of parasitic tree lizards has exploded, and local citizens couldn't be happier! It seems the rapacious reptiles have developed a taste for the common pigeon, also known as the 'feathered rat', or the 'gutter bird'. For the first time, citizens need not fear harassment by flocks of chattering disease-bags.

QUIMBY
For decimating our pigeon population, and making Springfield a less oppressive place to while away our worthless lives, I present you with this scented candle.

SKINNER
Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.

LISA
But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?

SKINNER
No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.

LISA
But aren't the snakes even worse?

SKINNER
Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.

LISA
But then we're stuck with gorillas!

SKINNER
No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

Megaera said...

If you were (theoretically) looking for an apex predator that could put some serious hurting on New York's more sordid wildlife (plus a whole lot more, incidentally -- that's a feature, not a bug), you'd bring in coyotes. On the plains they ARE the apex predator (except for man) now that wolves are gone, and they are frighteningly efficient. They're shifty, scary-smart, adaptable to the max, hard to kill, prolific, mean, leathery little bastards that eat anything, anywhere, anytime. They hunt solo, they hunt together, they do it all. Two coyotes recently killed a 19-year-old girl on a walking trail in a provincial park in Canada, within screaming distance of a dozen campers. Out in Los Angeles suburbs they used to take smaller housepets; now they're ganging up on larger family dogs who can't defend themselves against a gang attack. There've been coyotes spotted in some of the NY boroughs, so maybe it's just a matter of time, but if they move in en masse the results will be cleaner streets, but it'll look like a remake of "Wolfen", too. Did I say they were adaptable? Damn things are like cockroaches. Hungry cockroaches. About the only thing I wouldn't bet on a coyote against would be one of those albino gators down in the sewers. Dunno about those.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

No Opossoms in my area. Just not in their range of habitat I suppose.

@Mageara. Ditto on the coyotes. Mean sneaky bastards. They are all over the place here; along with cougars, foxes, raccoons, great horned owls etc.

The foxes have gotten quite aggressive lately and they also hunt in packs. I've had some agressively growl at me and stand their ground when accidentally confronted at night. The little pricks poop all over the deck.

My neighbor traps them and sends them onto other regions.....or something.

jerryofva said...

We have lots of foxes in Arlington Virginia, both red and grey. The red foxes stay clear of the yard (see above) but there was a grey fox that had the hots for my girl dog.

Several of the neighborhood tough guy tomcats have send a few foxes packing with major facial damage. Unfortunately some meeker felines have disapeared. A lot of people in the neighborhood think they are cute and they are in cute doggie way but never forget that they are wild animials and will bite you, your children and kill your small pets. Too many people don't quite get the wild in wild animals.

I blame Disney

Original Mike said...

My neighbor traps them and sends them onto other regions.....or something.

I've sent a few rabbits onto other regions. And if I catch any more, I'm sending them, too.

LarsPorsena said...

"...A lot of people in the neighborhood think they are cute and they are in cute doggie way but never forget that they are wild animials and will bite you, your children and kill your small pets. Too many people don't quite get the wild in wild animals."

Worse is that they (fox) are rabies carriers in much of the South. Beware!

Megaera said...

@jerryofva and DBQ: When we lived in Oakton, near Vienna, there was a big red dogfox that regularly raided our garbage and taunted our dogs until we locked the can with a carabiner, and until (I think) he pressed his luck too far with the neighbor's dog, an elongated black shepherd with a head and jaw like a crocodile and a sleepy deception game that was amazingly convincing -- I saw her prancing about one day with something that looked quite like a foxtail, but she was amazingly coy about coming to me with it, so I never could make sure on that score. Figured he had it coming, though. And it was a bad year for rabies locally, skunks and foxes both. Suburbanites (emphasis on the 'urban' part, have no clear understanding that there was a REASON people hunted foxes -- it wasn't just crazy fun: if you had a farm they -- and racoons and skunks and otters and all the other Disneyfied charmers -- were major damage machines, dangerous to livestock and crops and even family. And don't get me started on deer -- the population in Oakton seemed evenly divided between the Bambi-huggers and the folks who'd just lost $5000 in landscaping to them and become Disney apostates, deeming them rats on stilts. Didn't make for happy feelings in the neighborhood.

jille said...

A possum is just a BIGGER rat.

Freeman Hunt said...

We have lots and lots of opossums here. I don't know of anyone ever having mentioned being afraid of them.

Man up, Brooklyn.

Freeman Hunt said...

They're sort of neat. Giant rats that hiss like cats and hang upside down when they sleep like bats.

Freeman Hunt said...

According to The Internet, opossums do not actually hang upside down. So I guess the opossum that got into my in-laws garage and was found hanging from a wicker shelving unit was a circus opossum.

Charlie Martin said...

And hillbillies. They eat possums.

Charlie Martin said...

Oh, stop. MY people are hillbillies.

(captcha word: berstori. No, this is the possum stori.)

Fred4Pres said...

Freeman Hunt said...
They're sort of neat. Giant rats that hiss like cats and hang upside down when they sleep like bats.

9/22/10 3:30 PM


Even though I hate, when rats crawl through the grate, and nibble off my plate, that poem of yours was great.

bagoh20 said...

Like many of us, what they need is Pussy Galore.

CrankyProfessor said...

I'm glad someone else thought of Wolfen. That'd do it.

Methadras said...

Hawks or eagles could take care of the rat population for a long time to come.

AST said...

I read or heard somewhere that tumbleweeds (correctly called Russian Thistle) was introduced to the west because it was thought to be a better food for cattle than grass. It turns out that was true only when the thistle was immature. After that it grew prickles and became tough and unappetizing.

Same thing has happened out here in the west with Tamarisk trees, Russian Olive and Chinese Elm. I have no idea if those are correct names, but they sure are nuisances.

Brooklyn can have wolves. We killed all of ours off and don't want any more, but the ecolytes are always trying to introduce them.

Michael McNeil said...

Extremely funny thread!

However, opossums are not “big rats” or anything of the kind. Possums are marsupials, like kangaroos in Australia. Rats (all rodents), as placental mammals, are actually much more closely related to us as primates than either they or we are to any marsupial.

Presuming one knew that already, did you ever wonder how it is that America (all the way around the world from Australia) acquired its very own marsupials? Like a great deal of Earth history, it's an interesting story.

The better part of 200 million years ago (long before the demise of the dinosaurs) the vast supercontinent known as Pangaea (“all lands”) began breaking up — ultimately leaving North America and Eurasia separated in the north, and the remaining huge supercontinent of Gondwanaland in the south.

The recently evolved placental mammals apparently never made it to Gondwana before the great split up made it impossible for them to walk there, leaving portions of Gondwana inhabited by the somewhat older and more primitive marsupial mammals.

Gondwana then itself began to break up — fracturing like a giant eggshell into what are now Africa, India, Madagascar, Australia, Antarctica, and New Zealand. India and Africa eventually connected with Asia, and whatever marsupials they may have carried with them foundered in competition with the placentals they encountered from Asia. Marsupials may never have made it to New Zealand in the first place, while non-aquatic land animals were crushed and frozen beneath Antarctica's great ice sheets.

But both Australia and South America remained great oases floating in the southern ocean blue, not only refuges for marsupials but also giant flightless birds as well as other exotic animals, for many tens of millions of years.

Finally, however, just a handful of megayears ago, tectonic activity raised the Isthmus of Panama — bringing the placentals of North America and the birds and marsupials of the South into direct, competing contact. Wolves and great cats (lions, mountain lions, jaguars, etc.) descended into the South, and rather quickly out-competed all the great birds and the bulk of marsupials.

One group of the latter, however, not only succeeded in adapting to the terrific competition and predation from placentals but was able to actually invade North America in its turn — they are the marsupial order known as Didelphimorphia, or opossums. Tough critters; they had to be.

Michael McNeil said...

Make that: … fracturing like a giant eggshell into what are now Africa, India, Madagascar, Australia, Antarctica, New Zealand, and South America. (Duh!)

Fred4Pres said...

Michael McNeil,

I knew possums were marsupials. But they are most definitely not cute like roos, koalas, or even wombats.

jille said...

I know they're marsupials, but just look at one - exactly like a big rat. And they don't really like confrontation. Our basset hound went after one and it stood completely still with it's mouth open. They only fight when they absolutely have to.

Michael McNeil said...

The cute ones probably got killed off, just as would likely happen to the bulk of marsupials in Australia if that island continent were ever opened up to a full placental invasion.