A few weeks ago, we went to visit Juniper the Fox and her family, and left for home with an adorable ferret named Frankie. Frankie was found wandering the streets of Florida, and we were very happy to welcome him in to the Sesame Family. Upon inspection, we realized that ferrets look like opossums that have been stretched out into a noodle. Thus began our journey of research to determine whether ferrets and opossums are related.
The short answer is no, they are not. Let's begin by exploring what ferrets are. They are not, in fact, noodled opossums. They are actually a domesticated form of the European Polecat, and evidence suggests that these polecats were domesticated over 2,000 years ago by humans who sought them for their vermin-eating ways. Specifically, humans fought to control rabbit populations, and ferret domestication likely occurred first in the European rabbits' habitat of Iberia (mostly Spain and Portugal) and Northwest Africa. Since the European polecat is the only ancestor of modern-day ferrets, the latter are nearly physically indistinguishable from their wild counterparts.
Having been bred and domesticated for generations, however, a common household ferret — though sharing nearly all features with their wild polecat cousins — cannot survive in the wild. Which is in exact opposition to the North American-born Virginia Opossum, who thrives better in the wild than a household setting. Domestic ferrets are part of the Mustelidae family, a group of about 60 carnivorous species including otters, weasels, minks, badgers, and wolverines. The Mustedlidae family is the largest family in the order Carnivora, and various Mustelid species are native to all continents except Australia and Antarctica. Virginia Opossums (the kind that Sesame, Starry, and Daffodil are) are masupials and a part of the Didelphidae family. Virginia Opossums have not been domesticated, and they share the Didelphidae family with over 100 other species of opossum native to the Americas.
The highest point in New Orleans is often erroneously cited as a tiny mound called Monkey Hill. As far as 30-foot hills go, it's carved out an impressive lot of real estate in the local lore. In reality, the highest point is a different tiny mound—43 feet above sea level—in the Couturie Forest section of City Park. It's called Laborde Mountain.
So you can imagine my shock upon arriving in San Francisco. I was huffing and puffing up the hills! Lion Kinging above the bay and the bridges! Some of the hills even had steps built into them. The only thing keeping me climbing was the hope that once I got to the top, I could roll into a ball and somersault down the other side.
I followed directions in the park.
I got a whole bunch of postcards and treats and had a great time exploring the city.
I have to also give a shoutout to Oakland and Berkley, and of course the most wonderful breakfast place of all time (with two locations)--Timeless Coffee! I also went to bookstores, toy stores, and basically every kind of store.
Hi friends! It's Starry! Circulating in sensational news media this week is a story about opossums and typhus. Unfortunately, many of these stories provide little science or practical guidelines, and instead seem content to fearmonger and further stigmatize our opossum friends! Ambassador angels like Sesame and so many others have made such strides in opossum education; it's disheartening to see a new cycle focused on seemingly nothing more than perpetuating hate and ill-will toward America's only marsupial species. But we will not be discouraged! Continuing to educate, raise awareness, and foster compassion for our wild friends is what we'll do, forever and ever amen.
My wonderful friend, rehabber Lea Barley Murray, has written an insightful and informative breakdown of the current situation! She provides perspective on the problem, possible ways to curb the typhus endemic, and uses her writing and smarts to combat this new attack on opossumkind. At the end of her explanation, please find information for how to contact Inside Edition to encourage them to present responsible information on opossums (and also feral cats and our other wild friends).
(Lea is on Facebook and Instagram, and shares lots of pics of her rescue opossums.)
"Opossums are being targeted, blamed and will ultimately be slaughtered by the thousands because of assumptions and irresponsible reporting.
Tonight a story reported by Jim Moret on Inside Edition outright targets and blames opossums for the outbreak of typhus in California. I guarantee that people are going to panic due to that report and start killing opossums.
On October 9th, 2018 David H. Walker, the executive director at the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Texas in Galveston said he isn’t shocked about the cases in Los Angeles, which has a trifecta of perfect conditions for a typhus outbreak: warm weather, lots of people, and a vibrant population of street animals that includes rats, cats, and opossums but he also states that opossums are an unusual carrier of the parasite! Yet the only animal mentioned from Jim Moret and Inside Edition's report this evening were opossums.
The common denominator in this situation is the flea!! They should be calling in Dr. Michael Dryden, who is a Veterinarian and a Professor of Veterinary Parasitology, in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at Kansas State University. He is known in the veterinary world as Dr. Flea because of all of his extensive research and knowledge about them.
Everyone needs to stop targeting opossums and start controlling the flea problem! If the state of California or at least the regions this is affecting would have the common sense to partner up with a company like boehringer-ingelheim animal health and treat our wildlife with Nexgard or some other type of oral flea medication to attack the true problem.
Also, the most common way people become infected is by getting flea poop on their hands, and smear it on an open pore or orifice of their body and it's not as if they are out petting opossums, rats or feral cats so it must be that either their pets have fleas or they have an infestation in their houses so keeping pets on flea control and treating yards and the environment is essential.
And as a final note: Cat fleas are a different species than dog fleas. However, despite their name, cat fleas are capable of affecting dogs and a large array of other animals including humans. NOT JUST OPOSSUMS.
I am just so worried about the ramifications from this evening's report that I am beside myself sick over it. I am contacting Inside Edition and am going to ask that they correct the information that they blasted out there. Thousands of opossum lives are at stake. We need to be their voice so please take just a few minutes to contact them as well; the information is below."
Thank you, Lea! The contact info is as follows:
Call Inside Edition at (212) 586-1213 and ask for the Comments Line.
Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org AND email@example.com.
And, of course, please be sure to share positivity and facts about opossums (and all animals) whenever you have an opportunity. You never know who's mind or heart you'll reach!
It's a baby me! Complete with starfish feet and twisty tail. My tail is usually straight, but not many people know that when I use it to carry nesting supplies, I curl it up and use it to transport leaves, socks, and anything else that seems like it may make a good pillow. Handmade Cocoally-brand opossum, available in the Merch store or www.Cocoally.com!
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