National Geographic : 1953 Mar
418 National Geographic Photographer J. Baylor Roberts Feeding Antics on the Window Ledge Amuse the Author and a Young Friend Opossums relish any food. Mice, beetles, snails, chickens, eggs, and fruits please their palates. Scaven gers, these marsupials eat meat even in a decaying stage. Adults lead a hermit existence; no two have appeared side by side at Mrs. Atkinson's feeding station (page 411). It is at this stage that they begin to wander away from their mother, returning less and less frequently, until finally they do not come back at all. They have become hermits like their parents. Hunters and trappers are constantly after their skins. Opossum fur has long been used, especially in inexpensive garments. Even though trapping is forbidden in our own canyon, we are constantly on the alert for lawbreakers and their gear. We would rather see the gleaming fur on Mr. and Mrs. Possum than on anybody else. Mr. and Mrs. Possum may unwillingly serve man in another role, too. "Possum and taters" is a popular dish in certain regions of the South. The meat is greasy and to me unpalatable, but there are those who like it. Baby Possums Aid Research The use to which the little opossums can now be put is in the study of embryonic de velopment. In any other animal, to reach the living embryo requires anesthesia and surgery. To place the opossum embryo on the labora tory board requires merely reaching into the mother's pocket. And Mrs. Possum, even in a laboratory, adjusts to whatever life brings. INDEX FOR JULY-DECEMBER, 1952, VOLUME READY Index for Volume CII (July-December, 1952) of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE will be mailed upon request to members who bind their copies as works of reference.