Outsmarted by a Possum

When i moved in i noticed a hole under the house. There were mosquitos flying around the entrance in droves so i didn’t venture too far into the hole. Instead, i gummed it up by wedging rocks in it and pouring dirt on top of those rocks with a shovel. The next day, the rocks were strewn around the yard and the hole was dug out again. Obviously, whatever dug the hole was still living in it. I was hoping it was vacant. You see, i was planning to put skirting around the bottom of the tiny house and the opening of this animal den happened to be directly under said house. I wasn’t looking to have a critter permanently trapped under the floor. I tried to research what kind of animal could have dug such a hole but there was no way to narrow it down. According to the internet, some animals inhabit abandoned dens dug by others. So, even if i figured out what made the hole, there was no guaranteeing it’d be what was in it now. I heard noises at night underneath the window on that side of the house. I was sure that whatever it be, it was nocturnal. So, i figured i’d wait for the noise and then rush out in the yard with a flashlight and witness what it was. A good plan but an idiotic one too. Whatever critter it was; me pulling on shoes and running around the side of the house gave it plenty of time to duck back in its den. So i tried a stake out. I parked the car where i could see the den and then sat very still and quiet inside the parked car for hours at a time waiting for the critter to emerge. Nothing. I was beginning to think the critter had gotten spooked and gone to find a new den. I forgot about the critter for a few days. Then, one morning i got in the car, flicked on the headlights, and the biggest possum i’d ever seen crawled under the house and into the hole. I sat in awe of what just happened. I had identified the critter! It was a possum! I went to work full of optimism about my ability to handle the situation. Possums were actually beneficial creatures to have on the homestead. I didn’t want to get rid of the possum, just keep it out from under the house while putting on the skirting. I had a plan. I’d go to the tractor supply store, get a trapping cage, stick a can of cat food in there, catch the possum, hold it in the cage for a day, put the skirting on the side of the house, and release the possum. It was a good plan, in theory. I didn’t account for the possum being smart. I set the trap out in front of the hole, under the house. All it did was attract flies and make a bunch of maggots. The possum did not get in. Then i had a thought. What if the trap smells like me and the cashier who handled it? Of course he’s not going to get in. So i rubbed the whole thing down with tuna juice and dirt. I set it to the side of the hole, then in front of the top of the hole on the outside, facing the house. Each time, only the flies were interested. I tried a different brand of cat food. Nothing. Then one morning as i was getting into the car to drive to work, something walked past me in the dark. It was the possum. It casually sauntered by me and walked off into the darkness. I couldn’t believe it. This possum was smart. Smart enough to deserve a proper name. So i called it Max. Max the possum disappeared into the night. For another whole week i set the trap every day before dusk and found it empty every morning. On the final day before the handyman was scheduled to help me with the skirting, i set the trap one more time. This time i put a packet of real tuna in a bowl in the back of the cage. Maybe Max would like that better than the cat food. I got up the next morning before dawn to check the trap and see if there was anything in it. The trap was sprung but the food was inside and it was otherwise empty. I was bent down examining the trigger mechanism and trying to figure out how the animal had done it. When i stood up i turned to see two little eyes watching me in the darkness. It was Max, sitting on top of the mulch pile. He seemed rather pleased with himself. I had to laugh. I’d been outsmarted by a possum, several times now if we were counting. I said in the darkness, “Okay Max, you win. You win.”

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