Wildlife in Suburbia

Here in the St. Louis area, if you want acres between your house and the next, you drive about an hour west of the city, or you spend several million dollars. Instead (because we don’t want to drive an hour, and we don’t have a million dollars), we live in a neighborhood with lots of other houses along the block. People walk their dogs, kids ride their bikes, joggers run by with their ipods attached to their heads, and the sound of lawn mowers can be heard from early Spring through late Fall. Typical suburbia. It was interesting enough when we had a raccoon living under our screen porch last spring. (Really, in the middle of a very populated neighborhood? No woods nearby?) I thought he was kind of cute and the cats were enthralled with this interesting creature, but WH pointed the hose under the porch and the raccoon shot out of there like a bandit on the run. We haven’t seen him back. (It’s a good thing. He brought fleas into the yard and shared them with the dog. FPS.)

dsc02633This spring, we were again surprised to see a pair of mallard ducks in our yard. There is a neighborhood pond about 3 blocks from our house, so I suppose they get their water fix there. But they continue to walk around our yard and waddle under the big bush by the bird feeders almost every morning and night. I know that some of you were guessing that we’d have baby ducks when I mentioned something in Monday’s post. So far, no babies. However, the wildlife IS increasing in our backyard (in the middle of suburbia). Monday morning I looked out and saw these two possums eating birdseed under the bird feeders. POSSUMS. Those snarly, hissy, not-at-all-nice animals. They’re not cute (like the raccoon) and they’re not fun to watch and listen to (like the ducks), and I don’t want them in the backyard! dsc02634 I took the photo of the two of them and then raised the window to see if I could get a closeup. One ambled under the screen porch when the window went up, but the other one just sat there with his teeth bared. I haven’t seen them since, and I hope not to. (What were they doing out in the morning, anyway? I thought possums were night animals?) It appears that it is time to board up the space under the porch, don’t you think?

dsc02636This month is birthday month at our house. Yesterday was Web Guy’s birthday (Happy Birthday again, Danny!) and Monday was my mom’s birthday (Happy Birthday again, Mom!). We celebrated Web Guy’s birthday in Terre Haute on Sunday (along with celebrating Mother’s Day with them). It was really fun to see both of our kids and spend a couple of hours with them. Totally worth the 3 hour drive each way to get there. I’m so glad that they were up for it! On Monday night, we went out for dinner to celebrate my mom’s birthday. See that Creme Brulee she has? It was divine.

Sheri whothinksasheep(orthree)inthebackyardmightjustfitinafterall


  1. It’s a pity they’re not the nice fibre possums from Down Under!

    Shetlands are small sheep, right? You could say they’re funny looking dogs…

  2. I was going to suggest shooting the possums, mixing their fiber with some merino and spinning it up. That way you wouldn’t have to worry about them and you’d get fiber! (I know, I’m terrible…) 🙂

  3. I would much rather have a sheep or two in the back yard than the raccoons and possums. I am not a fan of the rodent variety of wildlife, or the critters they carry in their fur.

    Happy Birthday to your mom and son, I am in good B-day company, mine is today.

  4. Happy birthday to your family members! My husband’s birthday is this month – Taureans are wonderful, aren’t they?

    We live on 6 acres and have all sorts of wildlife – moose, bear, fishers, porcupine (they’re kind of cute), turkeys. But no possum – maybe it’s too far north for them? I too have wondered about sheep…

  5. My mom has a family of woodchucks that have lived in her back yard since I was a teen. (also in suburbia) A neighbor of hers claims there is coyote too, but I’ve never seen them. However, when I was younger and my Dad would go running, a horse chased him down the street – hehe

  6. Believe me, you don’t want either the raccoons (cute as they may be) or the hissy possums. If you have ANY access point, the critters will get in the house. We had them get in through a cat door and raid the pantry (seriously!).

  7. Only possums or raccoons I see in the daytime are lying in the middle of the road. I’d much rather have possums than the skunks that have taken up in my neighborhood. I live “in town” not even the suburbs! These skunks spray every night so we can hardly stand to stay outside. Last year the mating ritual was under my neighbor’s bedroom window. Now granted the skunks are prettier than possums but methinks possums smell a little bit better. I really prefer my deer and bunny neighbors. Happy birthday loopy mom and Danny.

  8. I have a couple of possums that come and eat under my bird feeder too – they must like the sunflower seeds. They usually run away when I open the sliding door and they smell my cats (at least I assume they smell them ‘cuz they cast their noses about and then waddle away). Sometimes I have to go out on the deck and say “shoo” and they run-waddle away. I don’t like possums either, but I would rather have them than racoons. Racoons can be nasty and I could imagine they might even come up on my deck and I wouldn’t like that at all!

  9. I live in suburbia, about a block from the park/lake, and about a mile from the nearest forest preserve. I’ve got ALL KINDS of fauna in my yard. We have chipmunks, squirrels, a resident bunny, some foxes, raccoons who are the size of my dog, possums, skunks, and I’ve heard tell of coyotes, though I’ve never seen one. There are also, apparently, deer, but they tend not to wander over as far as my yard. People closer to the forest preserve have seen them, though. I even saw a bat the other night when I was out with the dog (well, I heard the bat but didn’t actually see him). Never mind the birds! All the usuals — robins, blue jays, sparrows, chickadees — as well as a few unusual ones, like the ducks and geese that wander up from the park, and the red hawks that include us in their hunting territory! Good thing, we’ve got them, otherwise the squirrel and chipmunk populations would be WAY out of hand. ğŸ˜Ž

    Yep, never a dull moment at my house. Certainly not for the cat and the dog. 😉

  10. I had a Opossum in my garage once under some shelving my son (all 6’5″ of him) took pity thinking it was a stray cat and tried to coax it out and was petting it….. When it hissed he pulled out his hand and said that the stray cat wasn’t very friendly and had me come out and look. When I got down and seen that it was a Opossum we all freaked and then spent the next hour trying to get it out of the garage……lol Thankfully no one was hurt. And we have something to laugh about at the thought of that big guy on his hands and knees trying to pet a Opossum and calling it here kitty, kitty.

  11. Possum, no like. They are creepy. I lived in the city a while ago and saw one walking on its hind legs, looked 4 feet tall, had been injured and was trying to get back to its babies, while I was watching two more cars hit it but it kept trying to get up. I felt so bad. City workers finally came after I called and took it away. It was terrible even for a possum. On a lighter note, me the nonanimal person with two dogs now has two 8 week old kitties, one boy, Artemus, one girl, Annabel, siblings from a shelter. we wanted only one but her adoption fell through so….I fear fro my yarn.
    Happy Birthday to web Guy and his Grandmother…

  12. Oh, yummy, creme brulee is one of my all time favorite desserts!

    I’ve never seen a possum but they don’t look very nice!

  13. Possums are actually pretty peaceful, non-agressive animals, except for the hissing when they’re scared. They may also “play possum” when they’re threatened – curl up in a ball and pretend to be dead. I have one that comes and visits my screened porch most nighs to drink from the cat’s water bowl.

  14. Just think of the possums in Over the Hedge and maybe these won’t seem so bad. I grew up on a golf course with a pond and we had the strangest wildilfe (including the baby fox that came in through the dryer vent and the owl that fell down the chimney…)

    Btw, what does FPS mean? I thought it meant Frames Per Second but that doesn’t seem to fit.

  15. I say get some sheep, put them in the backyard, and tell your neighbors they are Labradoodles, or Retrieveadoodles – one of those poodle mixes.

  16. I’m not sure I’d be happy with possum in my backyard either. There are a lot of people who don’t properly take care of their pets and offload them into the wild when they are inconvenient. In my neighborhood this has resulted in a much larger bunny population than one would expect, and we had the hardest time figuring out which bunnies were wild and which were domesticated and just had been dropped off. It’s sad that people don’t properly spay/neuter their pets and then aren’t willing to face the consequences.

  17. Ooh, thanks for the reminder… I bought the torch a couple of months ago, but keep forgetting to buy the dishes! Off to shop…Happy B-Days to all!!

  18. Ok… possums totally remind me of R.O.U.S.’s from The Princess Bride…. eeeeewwww! I even struggle to find baby possums cute…. Happy Birthday to your mom!!! Sorry I missed seeing you last month!

  19. Sheri, I am in Clayton Gardens–a pretty compact neighborhood and we have a local red fox. I think he must live at the local athletic field (Gay Field) in a tiny little strip of trees there. We have possums too and they are so snarky and mean they don’t even run from the dogs. I was walking both dogs around the block for that last outing of the night, when we came upon a possum standing right next to the walk. He just stood there and hissed at us–even when the lab and weim lunged at him. I got out in the street because I was afraid he was rabid. Nothing as snarky as a St. Louis possum–ug.

  20. EEEW! I really don’t like possums. Hope they move on. My friend had an awful encounter with raccoons. They are very hard to trap and can be destructive. Let’s hope you don’t have to deal with all that. We live close to a creek, in the city, but there is a wooded area along the creek and we get deer. Our poor dog goes crazy when hes sees them, but they ignore him.

  21. I want to second the vote that possums are pretty harmless. They make funny faces and put on a big show, but they are pretty wimpy. Yes, they can make bad smells but nothing like a skunk. They are not really damaging to property, and are not even very effective rabies vectors.

    They do eat bugs and other nasty critters in your yard, so they are good to have around. However, get rid of the fallen seed under your feeder if you don’t want them about. If you board your deck up, just make sure there are no baby critters hiding under that you’d trap in.

  22. After you are sure all the critters are gone from under your porch, toss a couple boxes of moth balls around in there. We had skunks…lovely…once and the exterminator gave us that handy hint since he didn’t want to get near them. It worked!

  23. Happy Birthday to Web Guy and your mom.

    Sorry to hear about your unwanted guests. You need some of the cute wild rabbits we have instead. They sit out and nibble our grass while we eat lunch on the back deck. So cute!

  24. We dealt with skunks and ground hogs under our deck and shed. Throwing moth balls under there took care of them. Cute is cute…but rodents no way….
    Happy knitting…as i head to long island to pick up my college girl.

  25. Sheri,

    Be careful with the possums. They are mean!!!! I am generally a live and let live kind of person, but possums are another story. They have very limited vision and rely on their sense of smell. I wonder if the two you spotted are young and have lost their mother? Texas possums are a lot bigger and they have razor sharp little teeth. I would definitely board up the porch and send them on their way.

  26. Opossums are mean!!! They will attack if provoked and have been known to kill Cats (kittens) and when they bite they have to be killed to release their jaws I have known people that have been bit by them. My In-Laws when they lived on the farm they would go into the barn cats shelters and kill and eat the kittens. They also carry rabies.

  27. I feel honour-bound as wife of a Kiwi to point out that in NZ, possums are anything but cute and harmless- they are not indigenous to New Zealand, and they hunt the native wildlife, which before they were imported had no natural predators (there’s a reason why the Kiwi, NZ’s national bird, is flightless), but many of which are now endangered. They also have a fondness for munching the bark of the native trees (again, these are not in as plentiful supply as they should be).

    A friend who grew up on a farm once told me that in his family, you shot as many possums as you could, because down in that part of the world, they’re a pest.

    Just throwing in another point of view for you.

  28. As a proud chicken owner, I have long fought the battles against both raccoons and possums. I find neither animal to be cute and they are not welcome on our property.

  29. ICK, ICK…I hate possums! We live way out in the boonies, so we have all kinds of creatures visit our place on occasion, but possums are the worst! They push the outside cat away from HIS food bowl, and they are just fearless! We had one who was stand over the cat food bowl and hiss at us if we tried to run him off…the nerve! Just a couple of bits of info on possums…they have more teeth than any mammal, and their body temperature is such that they rarely if ever get rabies…thank goodness since they have all those nasty teeth!

  30. Possums don’t bother me overmuch either. I have indoor cats so that part is not a concern (certainly is more of a concern with raccoons). Over the years, I’ve had possums that put in fairly regular appearances at a number of residences and they invariably end up with one of two names: Blossom (the possum) if female or Mr. Smackers (they really have terrible table manners). I’m country-raised so tend not to get in too much of a fuss over backyard wildlife. There was actually an albino possum at my previous place which was quite a sight (and not as rare as I’d thought).

  31. UGH! I’m so sorry to hear that you had possums in your backyard. We’ve had them in our yard as well (we lived in a little more rural area of California) and one even had the audacity to use our dog door, come into the garage and poop in our cat’s litter box! FPS. We think it was after the cat food as well. We’ve also had them terrorize our dogs when they were outside by hissing and snarling at them. So, I can totally relate to your dislike of these animals, and I’m a total animal lover. Just not for these guys.

    Happy Birthday to College/Web Guy (I never knew his real name, thanks for clearing that up!) and to your mom. 🙂 Hope it was happy for both of them.

  32. My college campus has had lots of ducks around lately, which is very appropriate because the Duck is our school mascot. I’ve seen lots of pairs of ducks, but no babies yet….I’m going to keep hoping. It would be sooo cute to have baby ducks outside my building!

  33. Hey Sheri!!
    You are right. Wildlife is increasing everywhere. About three weeks ago, we had a racoon get into our basement! Not pretty, let me tell ya. We live in south St. Louis city. You can read the tale on my blog!

  34. I get lots of critters at my back door because I live in a rural, farming community. I just have to say though I absolutely love my sock kits!!! I love being part of this fun club and am excited when the “box and surprises” are coming. Thank you for letting me join in and share this fun!!! Happy Spring! Everything here in Kentucky is really green also. I enjoy it so much when nature begins her awakening process. Bye for now

  35. I wonder if you could have a scare-sheepy? Would that get rid of the possums? Although I do wonder how you would make a sheep look fierce. Mostly I want to kiss their little noses. 🙂

  36. When I was a kid, we moved from Florida to Massachusetts. That first winter, in addition to lots of birds I had never seen before, I got my first introduction to opposums. They only came at night. We would watch them out the kitchen window. A few years later, my family got a pony. That next winter, my Mom was doing dishes and watching the birds at the feeder. Suddenly, she called us all to see the World’s Biggest Opposum at the feeder. Our pony had managed to get out of her pasture and was enjoying the seeds on the ground!

  37. Sheri, Sheri……will you be getting the Atenti needle cases? I just got one to match my Nightbloom bag but am ready for another bag and will need another matching case…..

  38. Sorry…I am very fond of possums. Think they’re cute! Not all that destructive and eat stuff you don’t want in your garden. I’m sort of in to urban wildlife.

  39. Hi Sheri, i get the feeling we have different possums from you guys lol ours eat our birdseed and love things like apple and rose hips, but they aren’t vicious they do hiss but that’s more because you startle them than anything else.
    I love having wildlife in the backyard, sadly being on the edge of suburbia i don’t get as much as i would in the country (no sightings of kangaroo’s here lately ) We do however have a bat that hangs out every night on the palm tree that borders our garden .. the kids named him bruce.

    I like Ali’s suggestion, shetlands are small … you could say they are a new breed of dog your neighbours might be slightly confused and you would probably be called that odd lady from down the road but that’s ok 🙂

  40. Aww, don’t be so hard on the possums! We had one on our front porch when I was young… my mom picked it up one night… she was outside to get the cat and hadn’t bothered to turn on the porch light… I’m not sure who was more startled, but no one was bitten and the thing actually became sort of an outdoor pet.

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