We had a busy “almost normal” time for the first time in over a year last weekend. Friday was consumed with errands and a routine vet visit. Saturday was a trip to see my father-in-law in South Arkansas for his birthday. And Sunday my sister-in-law and I drove over to Petit Jean Mountain so she could take senior pictures of Abby and my nieces.
Around 7 p.m. Sunday night, Abby and I were on our way home after picking up Subway sandwiches. We were nearly to our house when Abby noticed a small round ball of an animal scurrying in the road and declared it was a baby possum. Abby is an animal aficionado and knows quite a bit about many different animals but she is a font of information about possums. She particularly was aware that if you see a baby possum, it is often because a mama has been injured or killed. That, combined with the time of day (it was still daylight) led us to believe that this wasn’t just a young possum on the lam. We turned around and drove carefully back up the road and saw that the little guy had made it across the road and was just wandering up a driveway.
By this point, Abby was sobbing and just repeating that she was sorry but she HAD to help him. I agreed, so we pulled over and she practically jumped out of the car. After a few failed attempts to pick him up with her bare hands, she managed to scoop him up in a cloth tote bag I had in the car. I walked up and down the road and looked in the ditch but saw no other signs of a mama or other babies.
As I was driving the quarter mile home, my first call was to my friend Jenny. Jenny is a wonderful soul who is always willing and able to help anyone for any reason and I thought she might know someone in wildlife rescue. She didn’t, but she offered to post on Facebook, which I appreciated because she has a large friend base. Once we got home, we sat on the porch and I messaged another friend who is involved in dog rescue. Melissa and Jenny both got back with me with a list of wildlife rehabbers and Operation Baby Possum Rescue kicked into high gear.
After calling the contact for Faulkner County, I received a call from a wildlife rehabber in Pulaski County. I answered a few basic questions and she determined that he was not big enough to be on his own. Another common scenario with baby possums is that once they get to a certain size, they can fall off the mama’s back and she won’t go back for them. Sometimes they are big enough to make it on their own but often they are not. This seemed to be the case with our baby.
The rehabber, Beth, was more than happy to take in our little friend. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to come pick him up immediately, but I would have driven anywhere to rehome this baby and avoid bringing it into the house with our 3 cats and 3 dogs! I am not the best driver at night, much less down and around the backgrounds to get to Wye, Arkansas, where she lives. Nevertheless, Abby and I set off around 8:30 with the baby possum, whom Abby had christened Ralph, now wrapped in a towel rather than a tote bag. About 45 minutes later, we finally arrived to a church parking lot to meet Beth.
After a quick look, Beth declared that our ward likely would not have survived more than a day or two. She assured us that she had several more rescues at home and Ralph would be in good company. She also told us that Ralph was…a girl!* Incredibly grateful to have delivered Ralph into someone else’s capable hands, I also threw a $20 bill in as a donation for the care she provides for the rescues.
Making our way back home on the dark and winding road, Abby and I were both in good spirits. If I am being honest, had she not been with me, I probably wouldn’t have gone back. Her empathy and concern for all creatures is just one of many things I love about her and we will always have a fond memory of the night we rescued Ralph.
*I refer to the baby possum as him up until the point of the “gender reveal” because we thought she was a boy!
Update – on Wednesday, I texted Beth and she assured me that Ralph had been dehydrated but was doing well!
Karri Temple Brackett
April 17, 2021
A little info about possums: