There are those in the world who detest squirrels and everything about them… but even the most ardent squirrelophobe can be broken down to admit they are quite cute creatures. Raccoons? Too cute! Skunks may make you wish you were born without an olfactory nerve, but they’re adorable little critters as well. But not all of nature’s pesky little scavengers were so blessed with the natural cute gene…..
You rarely ever hear anybody say that a possum looks cute. Quite the opposite, in fact, you will often hear that they are butt ugly. I’ll admit that possums are an acquired taste (and I don’t mean that literally, blech!), but when I look at a picture of the guys, I must be seeing something totally different than everyone else. The little rapscallions have a certain charm all their own, and I daresay I find them to be cute….
Naturally, my blog centers around the magnificent squirrel, and I did previous tributes to my affection for the raccoon and the skunk. But I haven’t yet devoted a post to the quirky uniqueness of the possum, a critter who I have only ever created one character for, but damn was he an instant winner.
Buster is a character who was many years in the making, but when he finally busted out, he came into his own in a hurry. One could argue he may even be more popular than ES himself, and he was certainly an excellent addition to my animal ensemble. Buster’s roots lie in an adventure with an invading possum my friend Holly experienced back in the summer of 2008. The image above came from a birthday card I made for her in May 2011. It was the first time I ever drew the then-unnamed possum as an anthro character. But he had yet to cross over into my avatars I drew for my forum, which is where stars are made. Then, a bizarre and daring act of theft that would make a possum proud occurred at my store one night in July 2011, and it set the wheels in motion for Buster’s big breakout.
Buster’s first true avatar appearance, and first appearance of any kind as “Buster Possum”, was in the above drawing, which was inspired by some guy (who we think had to be one of the construction workers doing the remodel we had going on at the time) who snuck into our store while we were all on lunch break at 2:30 in the morning, went all the way to the other side of the store to the Electronics department to steal a big screen TV, and pushed it over a football field’s length back across the store to his car and made a clean getaway before he was finally spotted driving like a bat out of hell off the parking lot. I couldn’t come up with a good ready character to portray the thief, so I fell back on the design of Buster I drew for Holly’s card. He was an instant hit, and the rest is history….
But enough about Buster… this post is about the species he represents out there! On with the real possums, and real possum facts!
While we call the critters possums, they are actually opossums. They are marsupials, like kangaroos, and the only species of marsupial common to North America. The most common opossum variety found in America, and the one most of us know and love to dislike, is the Virginia opossum. Buster is a Virginia opossum.
An opossum will eat just about anything, which is why you will often find them foraging around in your garbage at night. This includes the decaying meat from dead animals, and they particularly love roadkill, which is ironic since this is why you see so many possums squished on roadways across the country. They are born very young and spend their first few months inside mother’s pouch. They also age very quickly, and their lifespan rarely exceeds four years… and it’s kind of sad to think that the real-life possum who inspired Buster four and a half years ago is almost certainly no longer with us.
Possums are probably best known for “playing possum”
According to that fountain of common knowledge Wikipedia, a possum just doesn’t “play possum” as an intentional reaction to deter what it perceives as a threat. They actually do it involuntarily, just as we might faint in such a situation. The possum will actually stay out cold for an hour or more upon doing this. And while they do also make a hissing sound when they sense danger, this commercial is still full of crap, though I do admit that it’s both funny and cute…
Want to know the most interesting possum fact of them all? The males have a forked penis!!!
So now we know why Buster is such a hit with the ladies! And since it’s impossible to top that fact, I shall just stop now while you bask in the glory and the awesomeness that is the opossum!