June 11, 2008 - "Possum Pets"

Their names are Larry, Moe, Curly and Hurricane Shirley. The rescued opossums are about four months old and have been living in John Rosso's backyard for four weeks, ever since they were found on a local road after their mother was killed. From this point forward I will use the vernacular--possums. The possums dine on bait shop crickets and other possum delights. Johnny says, "They eat roaches, worms, bananas, grapes, chickens, eggs, grasshoppers. I've got a grub worm in there."

And the worm turns--into dessert.

"I love nature," says Johnny. "They're a lot easier to get along with, and they don't give you no backtalk or nothing."

With a steady stream of baby talk, Johnny feeds the possums "Here's a cricket, there we go. Hurry up, get it, get it!"

Those tiny teeth look menacing, but Johnny puts a guy at ease. He hands me a cricket and instructs me on the proper way to feed the creatures.

"Make sure they hit your fingernail instead of your skin. But he won't hit your skin. If they think they're hitting your skin, they let go real fast. They won't penetrate. Just don't jerk back."

With that, I timidly extend my hand, cricket carefully clutched in my fingers. One of the possums--they all look alike to me--grazes me with a sharp tooth, but doesn't break the skin. It was kind of like scratching a mosquito bite. And it was fun.

"Them eyes grab you instantly, don't they?" asks Johnny. I instantly agree.

Whether the possums stay here or are returned to the wild--well, Johnny says that's up to nature and the possums.