DEAR JOAN: For years I had a family of opossums living under my shed in the garden. I’ve had several generations over the years. I loved having them and watching the babies arrive and grow. One year I had six babies. Really cute!
I also have a few feral cats that I’ve been feeding for years. Whatever the cats left, the opossums ate, so everyone was well fed and happy, and the opossums stayed, which is what I want.
Now two new aggressive and very hungry cats have come to the neighborhood and chased my feral cats, and (they) eat everything they see. New cats have owners and a home, but for some reason they constantly search for food and leave nothing behind.
I tried throwing food in the garden dirt for the possums, but the cats are relentless and will even eat that.
I don’t mind feeding the cats, and I put in whatever my indoor cats don’t eat, but I want the opossum to get food too.
What can I wear for opossums that cats won’t eat? Tried the lettuce but no takers.
I gave up on getting my feral cats back, but I want to keep the opossums here and happy. I know opossums travel and eat elsewhere, but I want them to consider this house, and I think the extra food does that.
Carole Sinay, Redwood City
DEAR CAROL: I so appreciate your love of animals and your desire to provide a home for your beloved opossums, but I have to put my grumpy wildlife columnist hat on for a bit for a moment.
You really shouldn’t feed opossums anything. Wild animals must stay wild, and that means for their own good they must maintain a healthy distrust of humans. If they start associating people with food, they lose some of that natural, helpful fear of us. They are perfectly capable of finding their own food and the young must learn how to feed themselves.
Possums wander around backyards looking for food, and while they expect to find helpful humans wherever they go, they won’t be as cautious as they should be. Not everyone is thrilled to see a wild animal of any kind in their backyard, and when wildlife comes into contact with humans it usually doesn’t end well for the animals, which is why it It is also illegal to actively feed wildlife.
That doesn’t mean you can’t feed them indirectly. Opossums are scavengers and will eat almost anything, but by growing plants they like – those with fruits, berries, seeds or nuts – you can ensure that opossums have food without them. actively feed or those greedy cats.
It’s healthy for the planet to have landscaping that supports all living things. Reducing the use of pesticides and insecticides will provide opossums with a natural supply of insects, snails, slugs, mice and even snakes.
This way, possums don’t associate you with food, hungry cats will have to look elsewhere for their extra food, and you can still observe these wonderful creatures from a distance.
Contact Joan Morris at [email protected]
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