You’d think that getting rid of a possum (1) would not be that difficult, given that the possum was already dead. Really most sincerely dead. Not just playing possum, so to speak.
If the possum had still been alive, I could have called an exterminator or one of those more humane types with live traps, who let possums go in the wild, there, presumably, to frolic with like-minded possums, or whatever it is they do for fun.(2)
Exterminators, it seems, want to exterminate things, which requires that they be animate. Animal control people likewise need a live subject. Controlling a dead possum isn’t much of a challenge. I would have thought that a dead possum would provide a nice break from cranky squirrels or sewer alligators, but then what do I know about it?
Not much, and that’s a fact.
I certainly wasn’t going to bury the thing, an honor reserved for pet cats. There was no way I was going to cook it, however popular roadkill cuisine was getting.
Truthfully, it didn’t seem to be roadkill at all. It was lying at the bottom of the back steps, on a concrete pad, near the garage, which is where I assumed it had been hanging out before its demise.
My main goal was to get rid of the thing without actually touching it. I suppose I could have left it until my husband got home, but the mental image of the unlovely rodent becoming even unlovelier in the sun was simply too awful to contemplate.
I pondered a while. My first bright idea was to call the natural history museum. They had a small exhibit of local live fauna and surely must occasionally deal with dead fauna.
They were less than helpful. There was nothing they could do, the gentleman said.
“I’m concerned that it could be a health hazard,” I said.
“Don’t worry,” he replied. “The possum is a very primitive species. It isn’t likely to have anything that’s contagious to humans.”
“That wasn’t my concern,” I retorted. “I assume that rotting meat, of however primitive a species, is a health hazard.”
He said he was sorry and hung up.
I pondered some more.
I tried animal control. Here was this animal, and I was beginning to lose control.
Turns out they only deal with live animals. Possums are barely live animals even on their most animated days. No go.
Still with the pondering.
Then I had a bright idea. There are guys (and, presumably, gals) whose job it is to remove roadkill from our streets and highways. Dead Animal Pick-Up Specialists or something like that.(3) I managed to find them in the phone book. I figured that a concrete deck by the driveway was sort of like a street.
But not enough like one, apparently. The kind lady who answered the phone informed me that the dead animal in question had to be actually in the street. Or at least by the curb.
“Are you telling me,” I asked, “that my dead animal will not be picked up unless I put it by the curb? Are you telling me that I should pick up this dead possum, place it by the curb, and then call back?”
Uncomfortably, she replied, “Well, no. I’m not exactly telling you that….”
But we both knew that she was unofficially handing me the answer to my problem. I was going to have to face my fears, or at least my nausea, and move the possum.
The only way I could do this without actually touching the possum (one of my life goals) was to pick it up with a shovel and cautiously make my way to the curb, hoping that the possum didn’t slip off the shovel and none of the neighbors saw me. I dumped it rather unceremoniously over the edge of the curb and tipped it into the street proper.
Then I called the same lady as before and reported A Dead Possum In The Street In Front Of My House. Before the end of the day the Dead Critter Wranglers (or whoever) made it vanish.
I was happy.
Except for one thing. Now I had a shovel contaminated with essence of dead possum. The only solution I could come up with was to douse the shovel with lighter fluid and give it a quick whoosh with a match.(4)
So that is what I did. Then I went inside and raised a toast to the valiant city workers who deal with this sort of thing every day. Better them than me.
(1) I know, I know. Opossum. But where I am from it was spelled possum and pronounced possum. Thus Kentucky heritage wins over Ivy League education, at least for once.
(2) Or I could have trapped it myself by putting something irresistibly yummy at the bottom of a trash can (or a live trap, which I don’t have). Google recommends apple, carrot, or kiwifruit, but really almost anything will do. Possums are not picky eaters. But then I’d have a live, annoyed possum, which would not be an improvement.
(3) One place was called Critter Control. I guess that means if it’s alive it’s an animal, but if it’s dead, it’s a critter. I didn’t see a listing for Varmint Control, but that’s probably because I’m not in Kentucky any more.
(4) Germs dead. Mission accomplished. No messy evidence.