Ron yelled into the house, “Debbie! Come quickly and bring your camera.” When I arrived at the corner of our fenced property, I asked, “What am I looking for?” Jose, our yard worker said it was a giant rat called El Zorro.
“Oh, there it is,” I pointed. It looked kind of like a tiny kangaroo frantically trying to find a hole in our fence so it could make a quick escape from our prying eyes.
He either told me that they taste like chicken, or they eat chickens. However, I suspect both are true. Farmers don’t mess with chicken predators here! It is chicken nation and all predators are thrown into the cooking pot.
Although they are mainly nocturnal, it was early morning, and this little guy or gal must have spent the night munching on our bananas. Back and forth…searching…testing our fence line with its cool humanlike hand…sniffing…and inspecting anything that resembled an escape hole in the corner of our property…
The quote above made me think about animal lies, particularly deceptions of opossums. I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “play possum”. This expression alludes to the fact that the opossum falls into an apparent coma when caught, giving the appearance of death. The Brown Four-eyed Possum doesn’t play dead when threatened. Instead it uses its white eye spots to give the impression that it has four threatening looking eyes. Since they hunt at night, the white eye spots are visible to their predators.
Ron laid a pole over the fence for an escape path. Before climbing to the top of the pole and jumping to the other side of the fence, it turned around and bared its teeth, almost to say, “I am stronger and more agile than you. Don’t mess with me.”
Animal lies and deceptions fascinate me. Deception using aggressive mimicry like this opossum make me question if this is learned behavior or instinctual. And if animals learn sneaky lies to improve their chances of survival, do humans do the same?
But, those are thoughts for another day. I’ll restrict the research to them, postponing the real truth about ourselves for now. Instead, I think I’ll spend more time observing our new friend, the four-eyed opossum.