The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Possum in the Basement

April 10th, 2011 · 4 Comments · Posted in Blog

Nature has its ways of finding you

Some weeks ago tenants complained of a foul odor they thought was coming from inside a wall. Since there weren’t any walls where the smell was, I checked the basement but could find nothing where I suspected some animaly might have crawled into and died: the space between the Fiberglas insulation and the floorboards.

I reasoned that whatever had died would decompose soon enough and the odor would disappear. But this morning as my wife and a worker were cleaning out the basement they discovered the source of that smell: something had made a nest in an old wooden cabinet. They assumed there was a dead rat inside. Not interested in investigating the contents of the cabinet, they started wrapping it in plastic trash bags when they realized that whatever it was was still alive.

“This is on you!” my wife told me. Why it fell to me to dispose of this live rat wasn’t exactly clear. Yet I was supposed to think of some way of killing it. But when I started hitting the bags with a shovel and felt nothing like the body of a rat, I started to remove the plastic wrapping. That’s when the bottom drawer of the cabinet flipped open and I saw peering up at me not a rat, but a possum. Apparently it was a mother possum with what looked like a dead litter of pups. Hence, the smell.

Our bundle of possum waiting for animal control

I went back to the house to report we had an entirely different situation on our hands. What to do about our possum? I suggested we just open the cabinet door and let the possum find her way back into the wilds of the District of Columbia. The thought horrified my wife, so we called animal control instead. The agent who took the call seemed most concerned that we had not sealed up the cabinet with plastic that might smother the possum. No, I assured him. The possum had plenty of air and would be alive and well when they came to collect her.

Animal control guy inspecting possum

Sure enough, less than an hour later a guy arrived in a white van to check out our possum. His solution? Let the nocturnal mom stay inside the cabinet for now, then remove the plastic and open the cabinet door after night falls so she can wander away on her own. “Relocating them doesn’t really work,” he said. “You just remove them from their normal habitat and food supply.”

But isn’t our basement her “normal habitat?” He then drove off, saying he was needed elsewhere to deal with some squirrels.

This is a first for us and raises an intriguing question: How did a possum get into our basement?

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  • The Wife

    Ed, you know why it’s on you–rats freak me out!!! I’ve tried to face this fear by letting the kid get a hamster, which is basically a rat with a stubby tail. I admit Flatty Delgado did change my attitude, slightly, about the creatures. Still, it makes me shudder, irrationally I know.

  • Mike Licht

    I found one of these critters at my basement door near Lincoln Park. It wandered off in the night before I remembered that there are plenty of good possum recipes on the Web.

  • Ed Bruske

    Maybe it’s time to brush off some of those old possum recipes, Mike.

  • Ivana Kadija

    I am most intrigued by these recipes… of course, you would first have to do the deed and prep the carcass. Typically the job of The Wife, no?