Saturday, February 17, 2007

Rare Sight

Last week, I saw my very first badger. It was a very exciting moment because badgers are fairly reclusive. You might occasionally see a dead one, but a live one is a rare sight.

I was driving back to the house, in the pissing rain and the dark. When my headlights caught the creature, I first thought it was a giant rat or opossum. Then I realised it was a badger, so I slowed down to have a better look and make sure I didn't kill it.

When I later remarked on the badger to Peter, I thought I heard him say “You should have hit it, then you could have good luck.” I told him I didn't realise maiming badgers brought one good luck. Turns out, he'd said “a good look.”

My impression of the badger was of a punk rock opossum. We saw opossums from time to time in Illinois. One day, I was working at home and let the dogs out into the back yard. Our yard was fenced in and overlooked an elementary school yard. When I went to let the dogs back in, they were grouped around something in the middle of the yard. A something that looked like a fuzzy hat. My first thought was that one of the kids had fallen afoul of a bully who'd thrown their ugly fuzzy hat into our yard.

Then I got out to the ugly fuzzy hat only to discover it was actually a dead opossum. When I called Peter to ask him what I should do with it, he advised me that it might just be “playing possum.” It's not just a cliché or a funny phrase – opossums can actually secrete the smell of death, mimicking death so completely that well-meaning people have buried them alive.

On closer inspection, I reported that I doubted “playing possum” entailed puncture wounds and a broken neck. One or both of our dogs was guilty of opossum murder, or at the very least opossum-slaughter.

I can only hope that Toby never gets ahold of a badger.


At 18 February 2007 at 21:56, Blogger Fence said...

Or that a badger gets hold of Toby! I know he is big old mutt, but badgers can be dangerous to any dog

At 20 February 2007 at 06:41, Blogger -Ann said...

Eeek. I had no idea. Toby caught the smell of something this morning and was going nuts following the smell around the yard. Whatever the thing was, it traveled in crazy circles.

At 21 February 2007 at 01:51, Blogger Lyss said...

it's so ugly-cute!

At 22 February 2007 at 18:40, Blogger Shane said...

Never knew badgers also looked like such bad asses! How cool to see one.

At 22 February 2007 at 18:58, Blogger -Ann said...

Lyss - Yeah - they look even better when they're all haggard from the rain.

Shane - I had an idea what they looked like- but nothing beats seeing one for real.


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