The Great Opossum War of 2017, Part II or How I Caught Scarlet Fever in My Living Room

Okay, I didn’t actually catch Scarlet Fever in my living room but thanks to many articles, photos and jokes sent to me by helpful friends and readers, it was a serious concern of mine.  For every comment of “Oh, those shy and gentle creatures are the darlings of the forest!” there were five “Opossums are bags of ancient diseases, like little time machines on legs!”  I had images of waking up covered in sores, the doctors shaking their heads in wonder at how I managed to catch five different extinct strains of typhus.

As chronicled in my article of September 22, opossums had moved into the walls of my home and we were at war.  My porch has been the front line of this war and what I originally thought was a single opossum turned out to be one small opossum and one GIANT REVOLTING opossum.  I captured the little one, but the Giant Gross Dark Queen Opossum of Grossness eluded me.

No matter how carefully I blocked the openings, the Dark Queen managed to make it home every morning after a night out on the town.  It was like having a drunk, smelly roommate who staggered home after last call and fell asleep inside the wall.  Still, I had already caught one member of the Royal Family and the Dark Queen didn’t like that one bit.

My Great Opossum War quickly became a Cold Opossum War, with stealthy sneaking around in the dark, traps laid and traps avoided, whispered curses (mine) and quiet giggling (hers).  Because she wasn’t already disgusting enough, the Dark Queen also managed to get herself sprayed by a SKUNK.  I am not making that up.  Poison gas had been released into my home, and I burned through many a scented candle and incense stick to counteract the fumes.  It usually made things worse.

Do you know what an “Autumn Harvest of Skunk and Butt” candle smells like?  I do.

I saw the Dark Queen many times, emerging like a furry black bus from underneath my porch, sniffing delicately at my baited trap and casting a saucy glance over her shoulder as she slipped away into the night.  Many clever readers might ponder, “Why doesn’t he just block the dang hole, call a professional and be done with this? Also, why doesn’t he put on pants before running outside in the middle of the night waving a mop?”  Valid questions, these.

Because.  That’s my reason.  You can joust at your own windmills, this one is mine.  I wasn’t going to let these dinosaurs win.

A startling discovery during the Cold Opossum War was that the Dark Queen had two other offspring who also lived in my home, but since my skill at identifying individual opossums is rather lacking, I didn’t realize it right away.  They should wear different hats or shoes or something.  Let that sink in; the Dark Queen had given birth to at least three babies inside my home.  As enemy combatants, they were just as culpable as the Dark Queen and I apprehended them in short order.  I sent both of them away to start new lives where they have lots of room to run around and be disgusting.

By the way, it’s not my fault if these ugly little monsters eventually fall in love with each other and begin building a kingdom of cross-eyed, web-toed offspring with hemophilia.  It’s what royal families do, right?  So what if they end up with an extra tail?  They’re already awful.

The end of the Cold War with the Dark Queen was rather anti-climactic.  I had given up stalking her and figured at some point I was going to have to get into a physical altercation with her underneath my house, like a cartoon fight with fur and limbs flying about.  Instead, I happened to glance at the trap on Sunday and there she sat, embarrassed and ashamed at being deposed, all because she couldn’t resist a little dry dog food.

The Dark Queen

(I know they all look freaked out and terrified.  I would point out that these beasts kind of always look like that.  Don’t worry, they’re fine.)

I admit, I expected the sound of trumpets, a shaft of sunlight beaming down on me, my square jaw set with satisfaction and triumph, a glint of steel in my eye.  Instead, there was only the rattling cage and a whiff of old skunk.  A bit of a letdown, but a victory is a victory.  The Dark Queen and her Ugly Revolting Brood have been banished from my lands, hopefully for good.  Many thanks to my brother for turning her loose so I could take a final picture of the event.

Sharing a small, tastefully decorated home with FOUR unwelcome marsupials would push anyone past their limits.  I want to say my dignity has been restored but many of my friends would helpfully point out that I had precious little of that to start with.  Not a single one of them was shocked to hear I had been fighting an animal in my yard, armed with a mop.  Many of them would ask “Just one mop?”

The Dark Queen by Peggy Elwood, a gift in recognition of my troubles.

Matt Grigsby
Matt Grigsby was born and raised in Redding but has often felt he should have been born in Italy. By day he's a computer analyst toiling for the public good and by night he searches airline websites for great travel deals. His interests include books, movies, prowling thrift shops for treasure and tricking his friends into cooking for him. One day he hopes to complete his quest in finding the best gelato shop in Italy.
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43 Responses

  1. Randall R Smith Randall R Smith says:

    And when you consider their kind wandered here from South America, you get the idea that they are built for survival and indifferent to mops. It’s still a jungle out there and we need to be somewhat grateful that our species is not yet all alone on this planet. But talk about ugly and mean….

    • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

      I can appreciate these monsters on a biological level as fellow creatures of earth, which is why I made sure they remained safe. But as you point out, mops are no match for them.

  2. Avatar Brian Grigsby says:

    Dude. That was seriously entertaining! Had I not seen all of these awful beasts, I would have thought this was just some overblown story about a small little creature. But no…seeing them first hand has made the story even better. Thanks for giving me a good laugh today!

  3. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Your humorous writing – if not the reason for it! – gave me my morning giggle. Glad you are possum-free. Have you installed barriers like hardware cloth so that the Dark Queen’s court and subjects will take up residence elsewhere?

    • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

      I haven’t installed anything fancy yet because I wanted to make sure they had all been evicted first. Right now all the openings are blocked in a haphazard but effective manner. Now I can properly secure my borders.

  4. Avatar Shannon Grigsby Spencer says:

    I love your writing! Great article!

  5. Oh, Matt, how I love your writing, your wit and your perspective. This is exactly what I needed on this Friday morning. Thank you.

    You already grace A News with your incredible photography, but the door is always open and you are welcome to submit your writing here ANY time!

    Thank you! (btw, I have just the handyman you need to help secure your borders.)

  6. Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

    Thank you Doni! My absurd situation with these pests has provided aggravation and amusement to me in equal measure. I’m still hypersensitive to noises in the house but I’m sure that will pass. In time.

    Now to turn my house into a fortress.

  7. Avatar Nadine Bailey says:

    This was great. We all needed some humor and the knowledge that we are not alone in the fight against the wild. Matthew, I will trade you two skunks for one possum next time.

    • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

      I will not take that trade. My hatred for opossums is surpassed only by my hatred and fear of skunks!

  8. Deb Deb says:

    I have had more giggles and enjoyment at your expense than I should probably admit. I hope the Royal Family are truly gone and never find their way back – also that they don’t write glowing reviews on OpposumTripAdvisor about their stay in your home and all the extra treats they got. Thank you for sharing your story, and for the great good humor you displayed when some of your friends *cough* were relentless with the gifs and photos. You are a star!

    • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

      If those opossums write a glowing review of my home, I’ll have to go on to OpossumTripAdvisor under a fake profile and talk about how the Human Owner is a terrible host with terrible snacks and no manners!
      And I certainly can’t blame you for all the gifs and photos because we both know I would have done the exact same thing if our situations were reversed!

  9. Avatar A Glesca lass says:

    Hilarious, Matt! And I love how you carried the “royalty” theme throughout. Glad you’ve banished your colony 😉

  10. Avatar Ginny says:

    When we lived in Morgan Hill in a mobile home park for a few years, we had one Big Mama. What a mess. But finally able to get Big Mama into to a live trap before she had a second batch of near 12, again. She was nice though. No trying to kill us! We took her to a park near and let her go. Then used many, many boxes of moth balls to keep any of her escaped kids away.

    Then later we moved here. Oh, my, this time it was raccoons! They used our home’s back yard as a pass through. One night I looked out onto the patio and one raccoon came around the corner. Oh, look a raccoon. Then, another and then another. Oh, goodness! So I scared three girls away, but the fourth was a nasty old male. He wanted to fight me. In the morning out came the moth balls all around the fences out back. They left deciding our home wasn’t the place to venture into! And, I thankful thanked the Lord for that! ;o)

    Loved your tale of Royalty! Keep up the great writing. Have you thought of a book of tales??

    • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

      Raccoons are on such a different level than opossums! They’re like clever little people with busy little human hands and a rotten disposition. I’m not sure I could have outsmarted even one racooon.

      If I ever write a book, I hope this would be the only chapter on pests. 🙂

  11. Avatar Cate says:

    This whole situation is so funny to me – was loling 😀 Thank you so much for that today 🙂

  12. Avatar Carrie says:

    Lovely topper to the end of your tale, my friend Peggys painting!

  13. Avatar Joanne Gifford says:

    Enjoyed your wonderful humorous tale. I also like the great painting. I’m looking forward to more stories.

  14. Avatar Linda C. says:

    Oh, how I missed your amusing writings when I retired from the office. I’m so glad I can still enjoy your humor, you make me laugh hard outloud!! ?

  15. Avatar Joyfulgozo says:

    Thk so much. Read u on Marine’s fb. Good Read!

  16. AJ AJ says:

    LOL, LOL, LOL!!!!

  17. Avatar Pamela Knowles says:

    I live in downtown Redding amongst huge old growth trees, by the river.
    Hence there is wildlife literally 3 blocks from Market and Trinity intersection.
    The first time I saw a possum on my front porch through my screen door at night I thought it was a huge rat! The size of a small dog. I about died.

    It wasn’t much better when I realized it was a possum. Huge. ?. Raccoons had visited but they’re cuter. I learned to keep anything remotely resembling food away from my upstairs landing.
    I still hear animals wandering through the leaves but they don’t come upstairs
    A couple years ago when the drought was so bad I even had deer come down my driveway to eat my tomato plants and drink. Thank goodness the deer have plenty of water and food for their downtown lives by the river.
    I enjoy your photography by the way;)

    • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

      I know what you mean, spotting a possum is jarring. They really are like giant rats! There’s a green belt near my house that I assume is the original source of my problem. I don’t mind the critters wandering around, they just can’t live WITH me!

  18. Avatar REMOTE SHASTA COUNTY says:

    My worst experience was when my little Jack Russell chased a skunk right under my dining room and it got her right in the face. I got her scrubbed up but it was probably 3 months before skunk smell went away. I made sure nothing can get under there now and it is even hard for the plumber when he has to come.

    • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

      When I was a kid our dog got sprayed too and no matter how many times we washed him, he had a faint smell for many months.
      I’ll take possums over skunks any day.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      There are so many suggested remedies for removing skunk odor, but none seems to be really effective.

  19. Avatar Hal Johnson says:

    Matt, I’m happy for you that the possum saga has apparently come to a conclusion, but I’m a little sad for myself. Thanks for lots of laughs.

    • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

      If it helps any, I’m still suffering from PTSD. Every time someone closes a car door, I frantically mute the TV and stare at the wall where the opossums were living, afraid that they have returned, or perhaps I missed one. The saga may never end!

  20. Avatar Jorgi says:

    Matt, in addition to your fine photography, you are quite the author. I giggled, laughed and nearly choked on my coffee reading about your saga with the ‘possums. Please consider writing some more, but don’t quit your photography. How wonderful to be multi talented.

    • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

      Thank you for your kind words Jorgi! I imagine you will see other articles from me from time to time, but the photography will definitely keep on coming.

  21. Avatar Jorgi says:

    PS: I agree with you . . . skunks are worse. Cute, but dangerous.