July 7, 2022

boasting about our critter birthing center, video clips galore

The deck underworld:  Perhaps the most interesting perk to living in our home, with all of its weird appliance and furniture arrangements, is the underworld of our deck. 

The morning after Mini's car accident, I was cleaning up the kitchen, a task I can spend an entire day doing and still not feel like I've made progress, am I alone? I blame teenagers. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted what I thought was a rat scamper by the sliding glass door on the deck. The tail was pink and long. What the what? We've had mice, but rats? This COULD not be.

Before I called a realtor, I raced to the deck door and realized it was a baby opossum. It stopped in front of a recycling bin left there since the party. *I handle much of the clean up duties after parties, but emptying coolers and shuffling garbage bins around is not in my contract. 

While I was filming the little guy, Reg looked out at the deck and saw another baby. He was less mobile, hanging where he'd obviously crawled out from under the deck on a bed of pine needles. If you watch the attached video, I was worried that Reg spotted the mother and she was sneaking up behind me, thus me saying in a panic-stricken tone:  THERE'S ANOTHER ONE - WHERE? We never did see the mama. It had been crazy hot, like 100 degrees. I wondered if the mother had not returned to the nest the night before and these guys were starving/dehydrated. 

Me checking out baby possum #1. Short video.

                                            Then there were two, but no mama in sight. 

Grateful that Mini's accident wasn't worse, I wanted to go to morning mass. I was about to walk out the door to church that's a stone's throw from my house when I saw the babies. I told Reg to keep an eye on them until I got back. I didn't want them to go under the deck and die down there. 

That would  not be good press for our world-class, very comfortable, highly sought after critter birthing center. I thought we might need to bring the abandoned guys to a rescue if the mother didn't come back. 

25 minutes later when I returned, the possum babies were no where to be seen. Reg was laying on the couch and had no idea where the babies went. We haven't seen them since. I assume that the mom returned, and herded them back under the deck, or somewhere else. I doubt a predator would've come along and snatched both of them at 9 am without Reg hearing anything. I'm going to continue to think they are safe here in my 'don't eat the babies' happy place. 

Clearly the area under our deck is a highly-rated birthing center. Critter word is out. 

10 second unrelated video that popped up when I searched for 'gazebo'. Taken during family backyard volleyball fest during shutdown, April '20. Ball in tree trouble. 

In case you haven't been here long enough:  we removed a mama raccoon summer of '18, not realizing it was a mama, but fearing it'd get on our roof and do damage. We were seeing her out during the day and thought she was a threat because raccoons are nocturnal. A police officer actually stopped at the house to urge us to borrow a cage from his department to move her after he saw her gigantic body on our patio table in broad daylight.

The day after we relocated her, I heard her babies under the deck, squeaking loudly. Thought they were birds at first. This was when construction had finished up on the house, minus the never-ending hood saga. The deck was peeled back for the addition and we got them out from the ever-popular birthing center with a broom and took them to a rescue. 

Then in '20 during covid when I opted to blow up a pool on my deck because our local pool was still closed, we discovered the now famous mama raccoon (could it be the same one we relocated to a forest preserve on the other side of the expressway?) and four babies who had a splash party in said spa. This time, I removed my spa, but left the 'coon and her babies alone.

While not technically in the underworld of the deck, in the spring I witnessed a mama squirrel move her babies from her nest in the roof of the gazebo that's part of the deck. I'd never seen a squirrel baby before. Weird, but they always seem full size. This mama made several trips carrying them to the neighbor's bushes one at a time in her mouth. She was methodical, taking the same exact route each time. I suspect Finnegan's presence was irritating her. Or maybe she couldn't afford the bill at our state-of-the-art facility. 

This squirrel video is 3 minutes, beginning is funny - check out Finn's reaction. Then check out last 40 seconds, Mini comes home from school, (you can hear her in the background), wondering what I'm videoing and being excited that I've just made cookies, and she shares my excitement over the baby moving- while chomping on a cookie. I apologize for the smudged  window. 

Should I set up the inflatable pool just in case the opossum family is bummed they aren't getting the spa treatment that the raccoons clearly bragged about? Weirdest baby animal you've had on your property? 


Nicole MacPherson said...

Clearly the word is out! You're the animal centre. I hope those little guys are okay.

joymariecooks said...

Wow! Your house has clearly hit the animal interwebz as The Place to Birth and Raise Young!

We haven't had any wild critters birthing yet, but in Ohio there was a squirrel in the roof our apartment and it chewed through the ceiling of the utility closet, got into the apartment, and ended up leaping off my husband to escape outside.

Ernie said...

Nicole- who needs to go to Yellowstone with up close animal encounters like this? Finnegan sometimes stares between the slats of the deck for long stretches. I wonder if he sees them down there.

Ernie said...

Joymarie- A squirrel INSIDE my home would freak me out. Glad your husband was able to 'assist' in helping him find the exit.

joymariecooks said...

We were pretty freaked out about the squirrel, especially pregnant -at-the-time me who definitely had visions of squirrels landing on baby. Our apartment complex maintenance guy's solution for the squirrel in the ceiling was to not look for where it must have gotten in but rather to put mothballs in our attic one day while we were gone at work. We come home, I'm 8 months pregnant, to an apartment REEKING of mothballs. He did go back in and remove them the next day when we complained (and told my husband "but I put them everywhere for pest control at my house". Anytime we were gone for more than about 6 hours, upon returning home we'd open the door to the faint odor of mothballs.For months. PRO TIP learned from this is that in OH (and probably many other places) it's actually illegal to use mothballs as a repellent for anything other than insects because you're using an insecticide for something other than insects. We decided to let the maintenance guy know but not tell the apartment manager because maintenance guy was an otherwise fine fellow, just really into carcinogens

Pat Birnie said...

When I had an older home I had a raccoon living in my attic. I was terrified that it would come through the ceiling and land on my bed. I bought a trap in order to catch and relocate. First morning I caught a skunk (managed to open the door and release without being sprayed ) next two mornings I had opussums- also released. Finally got that massive raccoon. I put the cage in the back of my van, (wow did it stink!) drove it 20 km to a distant conservation area and released it! Amazing how resourceful one becomes when you don’t have the funds to hire a wildlife removal company!!

Ernie said...

joymarie - Yikes, the mothball no-no guy. Glad he was otherwise a good guy and that you didn't rat him out (get it? Rat). I had some pretty vivid dreams while pregnant and I can only imagine what a real live squirrel would do to my sleep time imagination.

Ernie said...

Pat - Look at you, a regular Crocodile Dundee of the forest friend variety. We found out that as a resident of our state we are not lawfully allowed to move raccoons more than a football field away from where we found them, or something crazy. (insert BREAKING THE LAW, BREAKING THE LAW music). We didn't move her that far, but it was across a nearby expressway and into a huge forest preserve. We do wonder if she came back, opting to have babies under our deck again. The sudden arrival of the baby opossums was a big surprise, never having seen the mother. And then they just disappeared.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Opossums! I never would have guessed that. How darn cute are those babies? I sure hope Mama came back for them. Opossums are essential to our environment.
You certainly have excellent yelp or Tripadvisor ratings because nature is enjoying your deck and backyard! Maybe it's some sort of pregnancy website rating birthing centers. :)

With the heat, you should blow up the critter's the kind thing to do. 😜

Funny that you mention it, but I don't think I've ever seen a baby squirrel either!

Ernie said...

Suz - They were cute babies - even with their instinctive hissing. I also found them much cuter when I knew one wasn't sneaking up behind me, which Reg's OH THERE'S ANOTHER ONE, had me a little wigged out.

Laughing at Trip Advisor. I'm hoping, unlike your Uber rating, that I'm at 5 stars.

It just never dawned on me that squirrels were once babies - they must stay put in that nest until they are big enough to run up trees and torment dogs. I can't write squirrel without thinking about Christmas Vacation SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!