You might be wondering why I’ve been writing posts lately about opossums. Then again, maybe it didn’t even seem odd to you, which is a really scary thought.

I was just kidding around last week when I wrote that it’s my husband’s “job” around our house to take care of varmints, rodents and vermin. Little did I know that the next day we would have a real varmint of our own to care for.

My husband had been telling me that he suspected something was living in our garage for about a week. I chose to ignore the ripped garbage bags on the floor. I also chose not to think about the sleeping bag that “fell” from the shelf at the top of the garage where we store our camping equipment.

Maybe the house was shifting and causing things to fall? At worst, a cat? I hoped.

When we got home Wednesday evening, we opened the garage door and saw the furry striped tail slip under the kids’ big green motorized jeep.

Being the seasoned southern Illinois hunter boy that he is, my husband announced immediately that it was an opossum.

The thought really didn’t even bother me that much at first. Until I looked at a picture of one on the Internet. Did you see those teeth?!

The next morning, we called Animal Control, and a lady in a blue uniform brought over a trap we set up in the garage.

I had known for a week that an animal might be living in the garage. But now that I saw WHO it was, I was scared to even open the door. We kept the door from the garage to the house locked tight, as if it was going to reach up and turn the knob. The bags of garbage started piling up in the kitchen. What if it was hanging from the rafter, waiting for a new batch of scraps, ready to pounce on my face?

The kids had the opposite reaction. Their persistent pleas to go hunting with dad had finally been answered… in a way! They were just steps away from trapping their very first varmint!

That night, I could barely sleep. I dreamed a falcon was caught in the garage. A family of mice was living under the chair in the living room. Worms and spiders were crawling through the carpet.

“It’s not MY JOB! My husband is in charge of vermin!” I tried to scream out of my dreamy state.

The next morning, I slowly opened the door to the garage and peeked around the corner.

There he was.

He looked sad and cold, snuggled up in his new cage.

He didn’t hiss or snarl at me. He didn’t even move. He was just a baby. Just an over-sized baby RAT with a hideous tail! Just a nasty garbage-eating rodent, with sharp teeth that have probably been gnawing into every box and riding toy packed into the garage. Just an animal who has been trapped IN our garage for more than a week, probably leaving trails of his refuse all over our stuff!

I wondered what the Animal Control lady would do when she came back to retrieve the cage. I assumed they had an animal prison somewhere for garbage thieves. Or at least a special spot in the woods where they would drop him off with all the other raccoons, skunks and muskrats they had pulled out of homes, cars and garages around town.

“Better close your garage door,” she said. Then she walked five steps to our lawn, opened the cage and turned it upside down.

He wrapped his tail around the bars of the cage and held on tight. She poked him in the butt, gave the trap three hard shakes, and he finally relented.

Then, he ran for freedom.

Well, not exactly. He waddled over to the nearest tree at the edge of our lawn and stood there. For several hours. By evening, he had moved just over our property line into the neighbor’s yard.

I assume that he is sitting somewhere now with a good view of the garage waiting for the door to open so he can dash in and reclaim his spot on the shelf by the tent.

It’s funny that just a day before the opossum drama began, my friend, Sarah, had been telling me how disturbed she was that they had found a mouse in the basement. It wasn’t that I didn’t take her plight seriously. But I guess I needed my own rodent problem to truly feel her pain.

We started joking around our house that the Opossum in the Garage reminded us of the book, “There’s an Alligator Under My Bed”, and that’s what got my crazy little brain writing opossum poetry. Now, if only other people thought I was even HALF as funny as I do! I could bring smiles to possum victims worldwide!

Postscript: We had moved the garbage cans outside for a few days while the possum was in the garage. When my husband went to take out the garbage today, there he was… sitting in the bottom of the garbage can next to our house. Looks like we have a new pet.

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