National Geographic : 1953 Mar
406 National Geographic Photographer J. Baylor Roberts Windows and Mirrors Aid Animal-watching, the Author's 25-year Hobby Nightly, raccoons, skunks, and opossums take food set on the picture-window ledge of Mrs. Atkinson's home near Pasadena, California. In return, they unfold much of their private lives. The author-naturalist is reflected (right) by a large outdoor mirror which increases the range of her view. eyelids slid shut, only to open and deliberately stare again. He stood tall, as if stretching. He opened his long slit of a mouth and yawned widely; then, as is the way of opos sums, he yawned again. Finally he began eating. With his long snout he pushed aside a piece of this and a piece of that. Propping himself up with his long prehensile tail, good as a foot or hand to a possum any old day, he picked up a chunk of stale cake, held it in one front paw, and bit off a mouthful. Head high to keep from drooling, he smacked his lips in a side ways movement. In the stillness we could hear his open-mouth chewing. Old Poss and his family, true scavengers, will eat anything. Once, in the South, my husband saw Mrs. Possum and her family of newly weaned babies making a meal on a dead horse. Possums also like mice, beetles, snails, birds, eggs, chickens, berries, fruits, and palmetto roots. In Dixie persimmons and chinquapins are their special delight. Having dined well, Old Poss took a leisurely bath, still sitting on the table. Making a three-legged stool of his hind legs and tail, he washed himself much as a cat does. He began with his white face and went from there to his head, then his neck, his body, finally his feet, running his long tongue expertly between his pink toes. Mrs. Possum's Baby Carriage One night an unusually heavy possum wad dled to our rock table and ate so much its sides bulged. It was not until the creature sat back on its hind legs to begin bathing that we discovered it was not Old Poss at all, but Mrs. Possum.