Archive for the ‘Marsupials’ Category

This week we had several visitors on the trail cameras. Keep in mind that one of these cameras has a messed up clock, so the time stamp reads that the video was taken in 2068. These cameras are pretty good technology, but they aren’t that good!

Let’s start small.  Here’s a white-footed mouse or a deer mouse:


I can’t tell whether it is a white-footed mouse or a deer mouse, which is hard enough to do in the broad daylight. These animals are in the genus Peromyscus, and although we call them mice, they aren’t closely related to the mice that originated in Old World.  New World rats and mice are more closely related to voles, hamsters, and lemmings than to house mice and Norway rats.

Then we got a light-colored opossum:


A good close-up of a melanistic gray squirrel:


And a large raccoon:


Because of the size of the raccoon, I am assuming that this one was a male. He was coming to inspect a pile of sticks and logs that I have anointed with weasel lure.




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Could domestication save the quolls?


I can see the ad:

“Have your very own miniature thylacine!”

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This is a newborn gray short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica) joey.

These opossums are from South America, and as New World marsupials, they are closely related to the Virginia opossum that is found in North America.

However, unlike the Virginia opossum and many better known marsupials, this species lacks a pouch.

The babies just cling to their mother’s teats.

These opossums are relatively commonly kept as laboratory animals, and sometimes, they are available on the pet market.

Unlike Virginia opossums, these animals are quite small.

They aren’t much larger than a hamster!

And because of their small size, they are often recommended as a pet, even though they aren’t available or legal in all parts of the country.

They certainly would make a better pet than Virginia opossums. Virginia opossums aren’t as easy to care for, and although they have an eclectic diet, it is pretty hard to get the right balance for optimal nutrition.

However, gray short-tails have their own commercially available and scientifically formulated food.

So it’s a much better choice for  a pet.


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opossum clan

This is a relatively common sight where I live during the summer months. The mother opossums carry their young on their backs, just before they head off on their own.

I’ve read a supposed scientific study that says opossums are smarter than dogs.

Are we talking about the same animal?

This is an opossum’s brain. It’s a very primitive brain.

Now, I’m not saying dogs are primates, but they do have a relatively large brain and well-developed brain.

There is absolutely no way that a dog is less intelligent than an opossum. No way.

And I’ve not seen them do anything of intelligence. We trap raccoons and relocate them, but it seems that the raccoons let the opossums get in the trap, while the raccoon laugh at them. Usually, I catch an opossum the first night or two that I have trap out, but by then, the raccoons get too curious.

Of course, the raccoons are often masters are tripping the trap and raiding it.

Anyone who repeats this scientific study that says opossums are smarter than dogs needs to look carefully at the principles of parsimony and Occam’s Razor. Most of the literature says opossums are primitive animals and have primitive brains. One scientific study doesn’t break the paradigm. In fact, it may say more about the design of the scientific study than the actual findings.

But just as there is a “feral cat mafia,” there is also an opossum mafia. And I’m sure I’m going to hear it.

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