Opossum

A Bump in the Night

Would you know what to do if you heard scratching from the wall or  thumps in the ceiling? Your quick reaction could mean the difference between the life or death of an animal(s) and whether there is damage to property from the animal’s activities or from its decomposition. If you didn’t hear animal activity until March – April – May, I can guarantee there are babies in the attic. Even if you don’t hear babies – they are there. The worst thing that can be done is to trap and haul off the mother. The first step in dealing with an animal incursion is to determine the species of animal. Many techniques are common across the board, but a faster solution can be reached if you know what you are dealing with. Rats and mice sound like a scratching that moves along the perimeter of the room or up and down walls.  Inspection of the attic will reveal droppings against a vertical surface. Rats and mice show an extremely strong preference to move along  walls.  Mice will leave dropping that are half the length of an uncooked grain of rice, rats will leave a dropping that is as large as a cooked grain of rice or larger. It is important to know what size rodent you are dealing with. Many believe that rat poison is a “no muss, no fuss” solution. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a gruesome death as the animal bleeds out internally. The mythology is that rats eat the bait, then leave in search of water. The problem is that they often don’t leave and if they die in an enclosed space, the stench and subsequent clean up [...]

Aren’t White Animals Albino?

The short answer is no. There are three major categories of white animals. The first is genetically white - white tigers receive a recessive white allele from each parent. If two white tigers mate, then all the offspring will be white. A heterozygous normal phenotype mated with a white phenotype would yield half normal and half white. Genetically white animals are usually a true white; dark stripes, rings or masks usually appear the same color (sometimes diluted) as found in the normal phenotype. The eyes are the normal color.   Albinism occurs when melanin is not produced by melanocytes. Melanin is the pigment that colors our skin. Sunlight stimulates its production. The melanin provides protection from UV damage. This protection extends to the eyes. Without melanin to protect them, eyes suffer from many issues including photosensitivity.   Albinism is easily identified by the striking red eyes. Eyes appear red or pink because without melanin in the iris, the capillaries inside the eye show through. Even animals that have genetically blue eyes will have a pink cast because the melanin helps provide opacity. The coat color will be a creamy white to pale yellow – the color isn’t a true white. Dark markings will be expressed as gray or pale tan. Most animals express as completely albino, but there are cases when only certain parts of the body are affected.   Many believe that albinism is a freak occurrence. However, albinism is actually genetic. It is a recessive trait that can be inherited. Most types strike males and females equally, but there is one type that is X-linked. The melanocytes are normal, but the body either doesn’t produce a necessary enzyme or produces a defective enzyme. [...]

Ending the Year – Upside Down

The end of the year brought trauma to a Barred Owl from Crosby.  The owl became trapped in a batting cage net and the more he twisted the more tangled he became.  Kind rescuers braved the cold drizzly weather to free the owl.  The net had to be cut and the owl was rushed to the Wildlife Center where an exam showed no broken bones.  The owl was given warm fluids and put under a heat lamp.  Several hours later he was standing and appeared to be in good shape.  A week or two of cage rest and some good food should have this owl up and back hunting in his Crosby neighborhood.  This owl and five other animals became the last patients of the 2009 year.  The Crosby owl was joined by an injured opossum, a pelican, two red-tailed hawks and a screech owl.  All were examined, treated and medications administered.  They as with the owl were tucked into warm cages as they ushered in the new year with a new chance at life.   Each year the Wildlife Center takes in over 7000 injured ill or orphaned wildlife.  WR&E staff and volunteers are always curious which species will be the first of the new year.  The first animal for the 2010 new year was a gorgeous adult red tailed hawk.  He was found in a yard on High Island, with an injured wing.  After a ride on the ferry to Galveston and a car trip up I-45 he arrived at the Wildlife Center.  A through exam revealed a sprained wing that probably occurred when it hit a power line or moving vehicle.  The first few days of the new year proved to be very busy [...]

A Fall Day at the Wildlife Center

Three animals lay on cold Houston streets on a drizzly gray day in November.  All three needed help as their injuries prevented them from moving.  Luckily all three were found by caring individuals who brought them to an organization that was ready, willing and able to provide treatment. On November 21, 2009 the first call came in about a Great Horned Owl who had been found on the road.  A man and his two children brought the badly hypothermic owl to the WR&E Wildlife Center for care.  The magnificent Great Horned Owl was cold, wet and scared. WR&E staff gavage fed warm fluids and pain medication. Intubation continued on an hourly basis. The Great Horned Owl began to stabilize.  Several hours later a call came from a gentleman who had found a hawk on the road.  With guidance from the Wildlife Center he took a towel and scooped the hawk up and gently laid him in the back of his car and drove it to the Wildlife Center.  The hawk turned out to be a gorgeous adult Red Tailed Hawk. It was also badly hypothermic, so WR&E staff administered warm fluids and pain medication. A heat lamp was placed over the bird to speed the warming process. Intubation continued on an hourly basis. Not more than thirty minutes later the third cold wet patient was driven to the Wildlife Center.  An adult female Virginia opossum was found injured.  An exam revealed deep gashes in her neck. She was also hypothermic and in shock.  This animal was warmed and stabilized. Then her wounds were treated.      By the end of the day all three animals were dry, warm and taking food.  Should they survive, they will still have several weeks of [...]

Awesome Opossum

By Cyndi Bohannon Anyone who has moved a wheelbarrow and found a hissing and spitting opossum underneath understands the jolt of adrenaline such an encounter produces. When faced with such an aggressive display, it is hard to remember that the opossum is more frightened that you. Think that opossums are disgustingly ugly? Tempted to chase them out of your flowerbeds? Don’t – they are voracious insect and grub eaters. OK - so it’s ugly. But don’t let its lack of good looks fool you, it is the single most important animal you can have in your yard. Nicknamed the living fossil by scientists, the opossum dates back to the days of the dinosaur. The name "opossum" is derived from an Algonquian Indian word "apasum", meaning white animal. The opossum’s face is usually white while the body coloration can range from almost white, through various shades of gray to black. Most of the guard hair is agouti (banded) which means that the hair starts growing one color then change color one or more times before it sheds. The only marsupial (mammal with a pouch) living in North America, the opossum is a unique and fascinating animal. The scientific name, Didelphis virginiana means “double womb” which refers to the pouch as the secondary place of fetal development. Virginiana refers to the state of Virginia where the opossum was first observed by early English colonists. Opossums are born after a gestation period of only thirteen days. Blind, embryonic in appearance, and about the size of a bee, the newborn opossum crawls unaided to its mother's pouch, where it attaches to a nipple. The nipple completely fills the tiny opossum's mouth, firmly attaching it to its mother. The opossum [...]

By |August 20th, 2009|Categories: Opossum, Species Article|Tags: , , |2 Comments

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