Thursday, July 12, 2007


The L.A. Times reports on what we already know. Possums may be ugly, but they get medieval on your snails and slugs:

But as disgusting as the animals may appear, they actually do quite lovely
work in the garden. Opossums are nature's clean-up crew, working the
graveyard shift. Like little dust busters, they cruise the landscape, round
ears tilted like satellite dishes, fleshy pink snoots to the ground. They
feast on snails and slugs, perhaps even a cockroach or two.

Gardeners may blame opossums for the messes and mischief made
by rambunctious raccoons, skunks and squirrels rooting out insect grubs, but
the reality is that opossums don't dig. They can't. The soft pink skin on
their paws is too delicate for such manual labor; their weak nails are built
for tree-climbing.

Though opossums are excellent at scaling trunks, they rarely sample the
fruit above. Instead, they might salvage a fallen peach or munch avocados
knocked down by squirrels. Opossums prefer their produce at ground level and
well rotted — all the easier to sniff out as they forage the night garden.
It's all true, Angelenos. And Southeast Van Nuys is lousy with possums. We've got a big family in the back yard. And who broke into my compost? Not possums. It was rats. I've since secured the can and have had no problems. Then again, it could be the fighting cats who are keeping the rats at bay.

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