Oh Possum

Opossum Etiquette

What’s the proper protocol once you’ve trapped an opossum?

Is there a rural edict regarding relocation? If you release one, are you passing the nuisance to someone else? Is it liken to dumping your lawn clippings over a neighbor’s fence?

Earlier this week, we found ourselves in the company of another Oh Possum.

Periodically, we have trouble with nocturnal critters, who treat the barn cat food like a buffet bar.

“You stop feeding those cats, you wouldn’t have these problems,” an animal control guy once said, when a raccoon was loitering around the house.

It’s true, cat food temps the wildlife. But solving one problem would create another: without cats, there’d be a rodent revolution. They keep the mice to a minimum.

Back to the opossum conundrum. The last time we pulled a critter from the buffet line, we deported him.

To Virginia.

Remember this guy?

But Monday, we didn’t have time for a road trip. So I texted our local marsupial wrangler, Liz, for advice.

Last fall she caught one in her barn.

And picked it up.

By the tail.

Liz’s little friend

But as I learned, she set him down nearby since her barn is sealed tight at night.

Our structure, on the other hand, has nooks, crannies and crawl spaces. Critters can hide in the daytime, and emerge to party like rockstars at night.

Last Sunday, one particular rockstar refused to leave the feed room area. (He parked in plain sight, and played possum.)

So out came the trap, and we discovered him, contained the next morning. Then Martin and I pondered how far was far enough, to prevent his return.

Google wasn’t very helpful. I did stumble on a forum discussion entitled, “Dispatching with a captured opossum humanely.” Some person caught one, using a Havahart trap, then debated whether to shoot it with a .45 pistol, a .22 rifle, or a .17 bolt-action rimfire rifle. Which to use? And will the shot ricochet off the cage?

The answer was never revealed but suffice to say, that critter is in marsupial heaven.

Our opossum was transported to the river’s edge and set free. Apparently, he did not enjoy his Gator ride — imprisoned, and jouncing along at 20 mph, with 3 gleeful, raucous children.

When Martin released Oh Possum, he couldn’t flee the scene fast enough. That crazy ride might’ve put him off domestic living for good.

O.P. Update


My recent Irish trip bumped the following news update about our tenant/wannabe-barncat, Oh Possum. But I’m happy to report:

Oh Possum has been evicted.



After several unsuccessful attempts to catch O.P., Martin camouflaged the trap with bits of lumber — an act that I endlessly mocked. (“Really, that’s going to lure him in? A few pieces of wood? Ha!”)

But it worked.

The night of the snow storm (not the last snow, but the one before that), we discovered Oh Possum, trapped like a rat.


I was elated, but our chief trapper? Less so. Martin was reluctant to locate the marsupial, in lieu of the weather. “I feel bad, taking him out of his environment to somewhere new in a snow storm,” he said.

“Okay…” I said warily.

“Maybe we should keep him in the cage, and — you know — feed him for a few days.”

“Not a chance,” I flatly replied. “He ships out. Tonight.”

“Well, then maybe we should let him go. And then we’ll catch him again when it’s not snowing.”

“Are you crazy? Catch him again? Do you really think he’ll fall for the lumber covered trap-trick again?” I asked. “Listen, the snow’s not that deep. He has plenty of time to meet his new, charming woodland neighbors and learn the lay of the land.” 

After that, there was a debate about who would handle transportation (“I’m not taking that thing,” I said.) And a discussion over the transport vehicle (“No way, Martin! You are NOT putting Oh Possum in Flash!!”)

Finally, around midnight, Martin and Cayden loaded the hissing beast into Big Rig’s flatbed and drove off into the dark.


You’re taking me where?”


Oh Possum is now a resident of the great state of Virginia (should he wish to return, he’ll have to cross the Potomac River). I don’t think that we’ll see him again. However, Martin has detected more scratching in the crawlspace above his office.

Perhaps an O.P. sibling or cousin?