On December 19, Adam Gundlach, Field Projects Coordinator of the Preserve, and Steve Sentoff, Preserve Steward and also on the Board of the Friends, were out at the Willow Creek Savanna. Steve reports "we were doing some work in anticipation of seeding into that area, when Adam spotted this opossum on the ground. Although I think opossums are normally nocturnal, this one did not seem sick or otherwise impaired, and appeared to be simply foraging on the ground in the area that had been burned 11/29 this year."
The Virginia Opossum, North America's only marsupial, has been around for at least 70 million years and is one of Earth's oldest surviving mammals. It lives in a wide-variety of habitats including deciduous forests, open woods and farmland. It tends to prefer wet areas like marshes, swamps and streams, and is likely to be quite happy in the Willow Creek area along the University Bay. It eats most anything, being and omnivore. Since opossums do not hibernate, they avoid the really cold northern areas covered by snow. They breed 2-3 times a year, and can feed up to 13 babies in their pouch, where the babies stay about 55-60 days.
This opossum did not mind being photographed. But opossums can literally be scared stiff, "playing possum" and assuming a coma-like state.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors