Categories: STEEL TRAPS AND THE ART OF TRAPPING.
The opossum is found more or less throughout nearly all the United
States. In size it equals a large cat, the tail being about fifteen
inches long, very flexible and covered with scales. The general
color of the fur is grayish-white, slightly tinged with yellow,
and the legs are of a brownish hue, which color also surrounds the
eyes to some extent.
The fur is comparatively soft and wooly, and thick
y sprinkled with
long hairs, white at the base and brown at the tips.
The nature and habits of the animal are very interesting. Its nest
is made in some sheltered hollow in an old fallen or live tree,
or beneath overhanging roots or rocks, and composed of moss and
dead leaves. The young are produced in several litters during the
year, and when born are transferred by the mother to a pouch situated
in the lower front portion of her body. Here they remain and are
nourished by the parent until they are five weeks old, at which
time they emerge and travel with their mother, and their little
ring tails do them good service in holding fast to their guardian.
It is an amusing sight to see a family of young 'possums thus linked
together, and so attached to each other.
The opossum is a voracious and destructive animal, prowling about
during the hours of darkness and prying into every nook and corner in
hope of finding something that may satisfy the cravings of imperious
hunger. Rats, mice, nuts, berries, birds, insects and eggs are all
devoured by this animal; and when not content with these he does
not hesitate to insinuate himself into the poultry yard, and make
a meal on the fowls and young chickens. His fondness for fruit and
Indian corn often leads him to commit great havoc among plantations
and fruit trees, and his appetite for the fruit of the persimmon tree
is proverbial. While feeding on these fruits he frequently hangs
by his tail, as seen in our illustration, gathering the persimmons
with his fore paws and eating them while thus suspended. He is a
most agile climber, and his tenacity and terminal resources in
this direction are admirably depicted in that well known Methodist
sermon, as follows: An' you may shake one foot loose, but 'tothers
thar; an' you may shake all his feet loose, but he laps his tail
around the lim' an' he clings forever.
He is an adept at feigning death, playing 'possum so skilfully
as frequently to deceive an expert.
'Possums are hunted in the Southern States much after the manner
of coons; and to the negroes a 'possum hunt signifies most unbounded
Though cunning in many ways, the opossum is singularly simple in
others. There is hardly any animal more easily captured; for it
will walk into the clumsiest of traps, and permit itself to be
ensnared by a device at which an American rat would look with utter
The dead-fall, garrote, or stout snare may all be employed, being
baited with any of the substances already described. The steel
trap 2-1/1 or 3 is most commonly used, being set in the haunts of
the animal, and slightly scented with musk.
See Fox and Beaver, for directions for skinning, stretching, etc.,