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Cathy Moon
14th September 2008, 09:05 PM
Now that the days are getting shorter, and it's dark outside early in the morning, we had a really freaky situation on morning last week.

It was 6:00am and dark when I let our three cavaliers out. Geordie disappeared into the darkness and didn't return as quickly as he usually does. I grabbed the flashlight and went looking for him after several minutes passed. I saw him sniffing at something in the corner of the fence. As I approached, I saw a 'dead' ugly, huge rat-like animal lying on the ground; the upper half of its body was in our yard, and the lower half was under the fence. In horror, I saw it's mouth was gaping open, all its sharp teeth and tongue were exposed. Of course Geordie had his nose practically in the animal's mouth! :eek:

I grabbed Geordie, picked him up, and proceeded to chase India and Chocolate back into the house. After they were safely in the house, Colin and I returned to the corner of the fence to remove the 'dead' animal, and it had magically disappeared!

I researched on the Internet, and found it was an opossum, not a huge rat. See the first photo on this link - playing 'possum':
http://www.opossumsocietyus.org/opossum_defense_mechanisms.htm

Love my Cavaliers
14th September 2008, 10:08 PM
I made the same mistake with our German Shepherd. She raced out of the house and I saw her "attack" something. She came right away when I called her, but I saw the possum and screamed to my husband that she had killed it. He was so calm and said "It's just playing possum. Give it time". Soon enough, it got up and moseyed under the fence and away from our killer dog.

My cavaliers have never gotten at anything that large, although when Madison was just 2 years old, she came to the door with a duck's head in her mouth! She dropped it immediately when I told her too. I put all the dogs inside and scoured the yard (we're all fenced in) for the rest of the duck without luck. The next morning, I let them all out for their morning pee and guess what Madison brings back to the door when I called them in for breakfast? The rest of the duck's body!! I don't know where she had hidden it - and I don't know how it got to be in our yard in two pieces. She wasn't out long enough to kill it and tear it apart. Plus it was almost as big as she was!!!

Bev, :paw: Oliver (7 yr old blen), :paw: Riley (6 yr old bl & tan), :paw: Madison (5 yr old ruby), and :paw: Oz (14 month old tri)

Pat
14th September 2008, 10:56 PM
I have a 12 lb. Maltese/Westie mix in addition to my Cavaliers and Shih Tzu. She definitely has the terrier personality. She has actually killed a possum in my yard (although it was a smaller, younger one versus a large adult) - happened in a flash very early one morning. The Cavaliers stood back and watched. She has also killed several snakes. I found pieces of snake one day hidden under her bed in the family room - pretty disgusting!

Pat

sins
14th September 2008, 11:25 PM
I think Pat you must have a Maltese/Westie/Mongoose mix there!
My parents have always had labradors and I grew up near a bog(marsh).
We had one lab called Bruce who used to go fishing for bog eels,kill them,bite the heads off and deliver the body to the front doorstep for my mother.:eek:
Sins

cy1266
14th September 2008, 11:55 PM
Wow, opossums can be scary! :eek: I'm glad Geordie didn't get bitten :)

We had a party a few weeks ago, and we were all outside on our patio hanging out an having some drinks (we live on the first floor in a condo and have a large fenced-in garden/patio). It was about midnight, and both dogs and cats had been in and out all night (they're all very social! :D)...well, we were sitting in a large circle, and here comes Miles, with a baby rabbit in his mouth! :eek: It was dead, and was still warm, so I'm not sure if he killed it or if one of the cats killed it and he found it. He was SO proud, but I made him drop it and then buried it outside of our little yard once my vet-tech friend determined it was really dead :( Miles was actually eating Nature's Variety raw rabbit formula at the time, so I'm kind of surprised he didn't eat this rabbit. I called his breeder and told her the story, and she wasn't surprised..I guess several of his relatives are little rabbit hunters too!

Cavaliers are so sweet, it's hard to picture them as little hunters that would actually kill something!

hbmama
15th September 2008, 04:07 AM
Opossums can appear to be very scary and ferocious, but, believe it or not, I am a wildlife rehabilitator and they are actually my specialty! So many people are fearful of them, but opos are actually happy to just move about at night and be left alone. Most of the opossums that we see at the wildlife center where I volunteer are dog attack or 'hit by car' victims.

The best thing to do if there is one passing through your yard, is to bring your pup in until he moves along. Opos will often freeze and play dead if cornered and feel there is no quick escape available. They will not chase a dog to attack. However, if cornered and there is no way out, he may give a quick bite if you stick your hand in his mouth. (Any wild animal can bite if provoked.) More often than not, they will just freeze, lie on their side, and grin with those 50 lovely teeth. :D

Some fun opo facts....They are very good for the environment as they eat snails, slugs and other buggies in your garden. They would also be happy to finish off that headless duck previously discussed if it was available.:grnyuk: They are basically natures little sanitation engineers and North America's only native marsupial. A mother opo can carry up to 13 babies in her pouch! They are not known to carry rabies because their blood temperature runs a cool 95 degrees. Like any feral cat or other wild animal such as raccoon, they can carry fleas though, so it is a good idea to keep your flea treatment up during warm weather.

If you don't want to see them in your garden, that's okay, just remove the attractions. They will be drawn to bowls of water, dog or cat food left out, ripe fruit fallen from trees, and of course, nice cozy places to den up for the day. Opos are nocturnal and travel about 4 to 6 hours a night, then sleep for about 18 to 20 hours! They look for woodpiles, dense trees or a nice deck to curl up under.

Alot of people mistake juvenile opossums for rats and sadly, hit them with shovels or try to poison them.:( We spend alot of time trying to educate people about them, so maybe next time they will avoid harming an animal that can actually be good for the environment.:thmbsup:

Dottie is my helper when we go out to the side of the house to feed the orphaned baby opos that I have here. In a few weeks they will be released back into the wild when they are big enough to survive on their own. :)

brotymo
15th September 2008, 05:40 AM
My sisters dachshund was badly mauled by an opposum that he corned under her deck. He had to be stitched up, and if my sister hadn't heard the commotion and gone under there to drag Diggidy out, he would have just kept on getting himself sliced up. The vet couldn't believe how ripped up he was. He didn't want to quit!

My dog, Kaya kills things. :-| She killed an opossum in the back yard a couple years ago, and she completely got rid of the mole problem we had when we moved here. She practically dug up the entire root system of a mature elm tree doing it, though. She would proudly bring me the poor dead moles. Three different times my neighbors cats have come over into the back yard and she had killed them (yes, three cats over 3 years time). I would always bring Kaya in when I saw their cats out taunting Kaya from the top of the wood fence, but I couldn't always be watching. I have felt awful about the cats, but I can't help it if the neighbors keep letting them outside and they venture into my fenced yard. She has gotten a rabbit and several birds, too.