Monday, March 14, 2016

Hey There, Gowanus Possum!

(photo credit: Martin Bisi)

Though the Gowanus Canal area is known more for its pollution than for its natural wildlife habitat, there occasionally are reminders that wild creatures can thrive in the most unlikely places.
Take opposums for example.  Over the past few years, there have been quite a few sitings reported in Gowanus as well as in Carroll Gardens.
Just last night at about 10 PM , friend and music producer Martin Bisi  came across the little fellow above at the corner of President Street and 3rd Avenue.  Obviously, Martin and the other passers-by were more thrilled about the encounter than this little marsupial.
At least, he did not 'play dead' as opossums are known to do.

From Wikipedia:
"When threatened or harmed, they will "play possum", mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. This physiological response is involuntary (like fainting), rather than a conscious act. In the case of baby opossums, however, the brain does not always react this way at the appropriate moment, and therefore they often fail to "play dead" when threatened. When an opossum is "playing possum", the animal's lips are drawn back, the teeth are bared, saliva foams around the mouth, the eyes close or half-close, and a foul-smelling fluid is secreted from the anal glands. The stiff, curled form can be prodded, turned over, and even carried away without reaction. The animal will typically regain consciousness after a period of between 40 minutes and 4 hours, a process that begins with slight twitching of the ears."

Gowanus is also home to a growing population of raccoons, which, unlike opossums, seem to be less shy when encountering humans.


Anonymous said...

Unreal...and they stood there looking at it? OMG. They are just plain nasty looking. And people just can't wait to live there by the canal. Good luck...

Anonymous said...

What? Nasty looking? Hate on an animal? What the heck?

Anonymous said...

There are a few possums in the area. Up until last year there was a family of them along Clinton btwn 1st and 2nd.

Anonymous said...

There has been a family living off my back yard on Summit between Hicks and Columbia. They are pretty bold, and almost tame. I found one sleeping on top of a gin bottle in my recycling can a few months ago.

Mike said...

I wouldn't exactly be thrilled to comes across a rabid Opossum. It's a clear sign that something is wrong that it did not run away or avoid the contact. The ones I've encountered in my backyard (3rd Place) were all frightened of human contact.