Manhattan wildlife

Our fair island is not well known for for four legged furry creatures unless you consider the countless dogs people own and the occasional Pizza Rat ™. But our neighborhood (Hudson Heights) is high atop a ridge and surrounded on three sides by forest (or for what passes as forest in New York City). So we sometimes get small surprises.

As Pamela and I were on the sidewalk outside our co-op recently we observed several dogs being walked. Suddenly one slipped the leash and lunged into the bushes in front of our building. It hauled out a significant sized opossum in its mouth and deposited it on the sidewalk. The owner swiftly scolded the pooch, tugged it away and slipped back on the leash.

The opossum sat stock still on its haunches, looking straight out to the street, mouth slightly agape showing sharp teeth and eyes unblinking. The dog had to be pulled unhappily down the street away from its hard earned prey. Then started a fun dance as cautious New Yorkers gave the furry creature a wide berth after being warned away by alert building personnel. Most pedestrians had to be alerted to look up from their cell phones at the last minute and side-step into the street.

Meanwhile the frightened mammal did what it is known for – playing ‘possum. For more than five minutes it squatted stock still where it had been dropped by the canine as if dead. Did not move a muscle despite all the choreographed twists and gasps of passers-by. As foot traffic decreased for a moment, it cautiously moved back into the bushes and later scampered away, apparently unharmed by the experience.

I’m pretty sure the opossum went back to its lair and warned all the other similar creatures to stay away from that area and stay sheltered in their dens to avoid trouble. I’m pretty sure the doggie exaggerated the adventure, size of opossum and ultimate result to impress its friends. New York dogs are like that.

As always you can find more at and on Twitter @walterthinnes

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