Monday, January 9, 2017

Opossum Tracks

I was intrigued by these tracks in fresh snow on our driveway recently -- they had a hand-like quality, with a hint of a thumb on the side, and the pairs of tracks nestled up against each other in an distinctive pattern. They clearly weren't the usual squirrel or rabbit, and I wondered if they were raccoon. However, after some knowledgeable input from folks in the Minnesota Naturalists Facebook group, I came to the excited conclusion that an opossum was responsible for the tracks. 

I've rarely seen these secretive creatures, and more often seen them dead than alive, but I know they are around here -- in fact, one of my very early blog posts, nine years ago now, was about possums after I sighted one on the main street near my house: read it here

Apparently the range of the Virginia opossum has been expanding northward into the state, whether due to a warming climate or human development patterns, with roads, bridges and culverts making it easier for animals to move around. A Minnesota Public Radio story from 2011 notes that while possum have been known in southern Minnesota for 100 years, their appearance in the Twin Cities metro area and further north is a much more recent phenomenon.

You are welcome here, little buddy. Peace.