Urban Nature

I always think it's kind of cool that even though Los Angeles is a city, we have a lot of 'nature.' I remember playing tennis in Griffith Park a few years ago and within ten minutes I saw a skunk, a coyote, and a deer. I've also seen tarantulas and rattlesnakes when hiking there. Ew.

Fortunately, I don't live in a neighborhood that coyotes like to visit, even though I have seen one as close as a mile away in my grocery store's parking lot. Even if they wandering over to my place, I have a six-foot wall around the back yard to protect the dogs. That wall doesn't keep everything out. We have visits from squirrels, neighborhood cats, and frequently possums. I see the occasional rat running across the telephone/electrical lines at night. There has also been the rare large lizard, which freaked me out. I thought it was a snake at first, until I saw the legs.

Last night, Eric and I went to meet up with a friend he is doing some work for and then get some supplies to make dinner. Our current protocol is to put Cosette and Little Guy in their crates, due to some behavioral issues. Rusty gets to stay out and "guard the mansion," as we tell him. When we returned home last night and opened the front door, Rusty bolted out past us, an unusual behavior for him. He seemed frantic and turned back and went in, but continued acting weird. We just kind of stood there, watching him, wondering what was going on.

The lights were dim, but I could make out a shape on the carpet, near the dining room that I knew was not one of Rusty's many chew toys. Because of the shape and darkness of color, I immediately said, in a wigged out voice, "THERE'S A DEAD BABY POSSUM IN THE HOUSE!"
So, we turned the lights on and investigated. Yep. There it was, a dead baby possum. Ugh. Nasty.

We knew there was only one possible culprit, who was acting so incredibly guilty already. Rusty clearly didn't kill it (we've found dead baby possums in our yard before, but not for several years), but he had obviously been the one to bring it in. He seemed to know that what he'd done was not such a good idea, in hindsight.

Eric went outside to get the shovel (Ren, I'll tell you where we keep's actually Steve's shovel that we borrowed years ago! case you need to do this sometime when we're away), and I got a big black trash bag. We disposed of the poor critter and I can only imagine how horrific my outdoor garbage can must now smell. I set about spraying, scrubbing, disinfecting "the spot" where the thing had been placed.

I lost my appetite and it ended up being quite awhile before we made dinner. I guess my conclusion is that urban nature is not always so "cool." Oh, and I hear the black widows are going to be especially numerous this summer.

P.S. No, I did not take a photo of the dead baby possum, but the thought did cross my mind as I photograph just about anything. I was too grossed out to even go there.


SJ said...

Oh! I was so looking forward to a pic!

Will said...

that would freak me out too.

Chris said...

I see more wildlife in suburban Huntsville than I did growing up in a much more rural environment. I've seen (in my yard or immediate neighborhood) foxes, opossums, snakes, lizards, tree frogs, toads, salamanders, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, groundhogs, deer, coyotes, skunks, moles and shrews (the latter two were dead specimens delivered by cats).

Chris said...

Sorry for the double comment, this just reminded me of a funny story...

My 14yo animal loving daughter and I were out hunting leaves for her leaf collection and I saw her bent over talking to a bush. I came up behind her and she was saying (in a baby-talk voice you use when talking to animals): "Who's a pretty rat? You are! You are a cutey rat!" I looked in the bush and there was a large brown (but admittedly cute) rat sitting there grooming itself, totally ignoring us.

madretz said...


ren said...

oh, i read this earlier and did not comment. you can be assured that if i find a dead baby possum in your house while you are away, then you will find one in the exact same place when you get back. so there is really no need to show me where you keep the shovel. (oh please, of course i'd take care of it!)

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