Common Brushtail Possum — Trichosurus vulpecula
Well, actually I only got to eat half of it because Mum and my youngest man-brother stole the other half from me when I made the mistake of letting them see me with it yesterday. I suppose I should tell the whole story now…
Some time around last Thursday (or maybe Wednesday?) my youngest man-brother was woken in the very early morning by the sounds of a possum fight in the back yard. Later in the morning when everyone got up they saw possum fur all over the yard. I sleep outside so I knew exactly what happened, but I decided to stay quiet about the details. Mum was worried that I might have fought with the possum so she checked me over for scratches, but I was fine. She searched the yard but couldn’t see any dead or injured possums and over the next couple of days there were no delightlful smells of decaying possums coming from anywhere, so Mum was happy.
Then yesterday (Sunday), after I had spent a while inside the big people-kennel, I decided it was time to go outside again to play. While no-one was looking I dug up my secret stash of possum from a hiding place in the garden, then left the half possum lying on the freshly cut grass, just near the pool gate. I’d already eaten the top half of the possum earlier (not telling exactly when — a dog’s gotta have some secrets) so at this stage it was just the possum’s back legs, bum and long fluffy tail that was left. My man-brother only saw it when I ran over to it later and picked it up again. He tried to take my possum but I wasn’t about to give it up so then he called out to Mum. She came outside and when she saw me standing there with possum legs and a big black, fluffy tail hanging out of my mouth she chased me for a bit and yelled at me to drop it too, but nope, I wasn’t gonna let her take it either!
Mum went inside the people-kennel, then came back out again carrying a big juicy beef steak …mmmmmmm steeeeaaaaak. I dropped the possum immediately and took the yummy steak, and my man-brother picked up my beautiful possum bum and put it in the bin! Oh well, I was too busy eating the steak and cleaning up the bone to care much about the possum anymore.
Like I said, I didn’t want to tell all my secrets but Mum already suspected I’d probably eaten the top half of the possum some time in the last couple of days or so. The proof was found in the form of possum fur in my poo when she and my man-brother cleaned up after me later in the day. Damn! I didn’t think they’d look so closely!
Mum then spent time at her computer finding out all sorts of information about what happens to dogs who eat possums. The biggest risk, aside from picking up mites, ticks and other parasites, seems to be bacterial infections. Possum faeces can carry the buruli bacteria, which can cause sizeable “flesh eating” skin ulcers in domestic animals and humans. Lots of people wrote on forums saying their dogs ate possums and were fine, while other dogs were a bit “off” for a little while but recovered quickly without any assistance. Mum is worried about me because her friend’s dogs, Gracie and Rosie, ate a dead possum they found in their yard some time ago and they both got very sick as a result. Their mum said the symptoms took about a week to show and one of the dogs got a severe stomach infection and the other got the infection in her mouth — I think she lost some teeth because of it too! Fortunately they both recovered after some time at the vet hospital. Their vet said it happened because they ate the possum’s intestines so it sounds like it was probably this nasty buruli bacteria that made them sick. I hope I don’t get sick!
Mum phoned my vet’s office this morning to see if I should have blood tests, poo tests or antibiotics just in case. They took all the details and told Mum the vet would phone back later with his opinion of what, if anything, should be done at this stage. So now we wait.
Update: The vet phoned back a few hours later and said there aren’t really any tests they can do at this stage so Mum should watch for any signs of illness such as vomiting and bring me to the vet if I seem unwell.
P.S. I also have two new names. Dad keeps calling me Possum and Mum calls me PossumBreath! grrrrr!