Thursday, January 29, 2009

This would never happen in Detroit

I grew up in the suburbs of the Motor City - very suburbish suburbs. Kids riding up and down the sidewalks, every blade of grass beautifully groomed and trees growing only where we wanted them to. There was the occasional glade that we referred to as "woods" or even "forest;" to my young eyes any grouping of trees was home to wild animals.

In truth, my contact with animals was limited to the standard dog, cat, and birds aplenty. Very rarely we saw a deer wandering around (okay, like three times in eighteen years) and it was enough that I remember each incident with clarity.

Then I move here. First of all, the winged species here aren't limited to your household robin. Macaws and parrots frequently fly past my window. (And they're freakin' loud.) One time I saw a monkey hanging from a tree just a couple blocks from my house. And don't get me started about the insects.

So I shouldn't have been too surprised when Little Prince came running in the other day, yelling about a "big dead rat" in the backyard.

Turns out it wasn't a rat. Or dead. Yet.

It was a dying possum - a little longer than my forearm, gray with white streaks. Quite cute, actually. She had obviously been attacked by a dog of some sort, and her breathing was shallow and raspy.

I guess I can say I can now see thestrals, since she passed away before we could do anything for her.

But what really caught our attention was the tiny little legs struggling underneath her. We figured the poor thing had just given birth, and the baby was still nursing when his mommy died.
We tried to pull the little thing out from under her (wearing gloves, I might add), but he just wouldn't let go. So we very carefully flipped the momma over.

And he wasn't nursing. He was BEING BORN.

After recovering from the initial shock, we commenced emergency surgery. We eased the baby possum out of her onto the grass - and another followed right behind. And another. And another. And another.

That would be SIX baby possums.
I knew full well that their chances of survival were slim to nil. A part of me realized that perhaps it would be kinder to just drown them, rather than let them die slowly of starvation. But my very being shunned away from the idea of murdering these tiny infants, deprived of their mother before they even got started on life. I'm a mom too. I'm sure she died thinking of her kids, possum though she was.
And even though humans might let a little baby die - deprived of their mother simply because she didn't want it - I couldn't do it. Because those little infants have feelings. They're still real possums - every bit as possum-ish as their mother. They can feel pain and loneliness, hunger and love. Just like a newborn baby.
So I had six little foster babies in the house until we found a loving home for them. (Or, at least, a forest animal hospital.)
Shouldn't we extend the same courtesy to our fellow human beings?


LisAway said...

WOW! What a story! I'm glad you got them taken care of. That is so crazy. And it's also crazy that you see monkeys and macaws around! Funky.

And my answer to your closing question is Yes. Absolutely.

LisAway said...

Oh, and I meant to say that in southern California where I grew up we saw possums nearly every morning on our way to early morning seminary and sometimes when we were coming home late from somewhere.

Floyd said...

AHHHH!!!! Possums are earth's nastiest animals. They are totally like big rats. I didn't know they even existed in Brazil. Although based on the size of the frogs down there I'd suspect they were the size of horses.

I had this ongoing feud with a possum for two years because I swore the thing stole my shoe (turns out it was just my mom who stole the shoe). I know that was just ONE possum, but man those things are evil. You can see it in their souls.

So, you pose an interesting question. Do you let them die of starvation or drown them. I think starvation would definately be slower and more painful - but these little possums have done nothing to deserve a slow death - yet.

Seriously - my skin crawls just thinking about them.

Good luck finding someone to take those things.

And finally: yuck.

Floyd said...

Oh and possums are marsupials and have a pouch (who knows what they hide in there when they don't have babies in them).

Those babies are totally undeveloped - unless you pulled them out of the pouch and not the inside of the possum.

And - Yuck. And - EVIL!!!

Deb said...

I must post in response to the possom-hater. I had a friend who rescued a baby possum, and kept it as a pet. When it was full grown, it was the sweetest, most loving animal. He would sit on my shoulder, wrap his tail around my hand, and just snuggle with me. I'm glad you rescued all of those babies, I couldn't have let them die, either. Sometime I'll have to tell you about Sven and the rabbit, we're both big softies when it comes to animals.

Brooke said...

Wow! That is one crazy story! I have never thought about the animals down there, though it makes sense. I think if I saw a monkey just hanging from a tree, it would freak me out. Way to save the possum. Good luck!

Tessa Nelson said...

That is so neat! I grew up on the farm and saw a lot of lil critters being born and all that good stuff - what an amazing why to show your kids there IS A GOD and look at how amazing HE is!

Sara said...

Wow! What a neat story. And one your kids will always remember. Glad you found someone to take care of them!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Very cool story. And definitely a memorable moment for your kids. I think you did the right thing. No guarantees, of course, but you did your best, and that's a good lesson for the kids too.

Tamra Watson said...

What in the world did you feed them? Did you google "possum care?"

Any by the way, Little Prince will definitely NEVER forget this story. I think it will become a classic.

Lara said...

I'm glad that you found somewhere to take them in so that they will survive without their mother. Neat story...and great experience for your kids, I think.

You'll have to let us know if you see any thestrals around Brazil now, along with every other animal you get to see.

Real Mom, Real Life said...

I love this story... I can't believe you delivered those little babies.

Not only is that terribly sweet, it is very brave... I wouldn't know what to do and don't think I could do it without throwing up...

You are my hero.

Its a great lesson for us all. Thank you for this post.

JustRandi said...

OK that is so amazing!
You're my hero. I can't do anything that has to do with blood or dying.

What a wonderful lesson for your kids. And for us!

Kristina P. said...

Wow! That's amazing! I hope they all survive!

Becky said...

What a great experience for your kids (and you)!

wonder woman said...

Oh. My. I have an unhealthy fear of all things rodents. I would not have been able to do what you did AT ALL. Mostly because I wouldn't have gone anywhere near the oppossum.

But your point is very clear and well made. Do you ever read ::Jan:: (crazy lady on road 80)? She's done a few posts about this in the past, one recently talked about all the kindnesses extended toward animals. I think you'd enjoy it.

Annette Lyon said...

Quite a biology lesson for the kids, I imagine. Whoa.

Erin said...

Oh wow, what a story! I don't think I've ever seen a possum before.

Let us know when you see a thestral! :)

::Jan:: said...

One more reason why I love reading about your life. So misplaced :) joking.

Monkeys and possums and you are so nice.

What next? A monkey stealing your groceries. I have heard that happening before.

nikkicrumpet said...

AMEN SISTER AMEN!!! Isn't it funny we afford better treatment to animals than we do humans. I loved this story...and the message behind it!

Rachel H said...

Wow, that is shocking and amazing. I have never been that involved with any animal giving birth..and how sad the mom died!

And great message.YES. YES. YES.

Harmony said...

Ah... yes, let's save those HUMAN babies nobody wants. 'Cuz I want one. The government and special groups spend millions on saving this animal or that animal, but what about the thousands of babies being killed every day? People don't seem to care abaout that. But that's another topic for another day (maybe...)

Vanessa said...

My parents lived in Farmington Hills for two years. The winters killed them, so they left.

You are right, that probably wouldn't happen in the Detroit :)

Heather of the EO said...

What an amazing story. And an even more amazing lesson within the story. You just rock :)