Caught another possum....

This one was more interesting with better looking features, either it was older, the other gender or it was sporting a winter coat. First off, it tried to "play possum" on me....Well, it worked so well that I have my doubts as to whether this is a conscious act on their part. Based on the amount of shouting, hand clapping, cage shaking and the lack of response from the critter, I'm convinced it's not conscious while playing possum even if it's a self induced state.
It could also be an involuntary mechanism triggered by fear. Whatever, the animal would have to undergo an extreme altered state of consciousness if it was pretending IMO. Furthermore, people have cited cases where they are run over by tractors and farm machinery while playing possum so it seems that there isn't a conscious "one eye left open" if this is some pretentious act of self preservation. In other words, when a possum "plays possum" it lacks the shrewdness of a great pretender.
This one had shorter jaws and fluffy fur and reminded me of a bear. Looked like something one would want to keep as a pet if these weren't wild animals. It trembled when we approached the cage (except when it was playing possum). I was also able to get a good look at its prehensile tail. Here are some pictures;
http://www.pbase.com/eldata/image/69297010/large
(Warning: The one below is large and requires panning but gives closeup equivalent) http://www.pbase.com/eldata/image/69297010/original
(Closeup of tail only without the need to pan) http://www.pbase.com/eldata/image/69297015/large
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Yeah, from what I've read, they enter a comatose state that lasts from 20 minutes to 4 hours. They can sometimes drool as well as exude a green, foul smelling, matter from an anal gland. many predators need movement/panic from prey as a feeding stimulus and I guess the feigned death has served the Opposums well over the centuries.
Carl
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Interesting article on 'death feigning'. http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20061028/bob8.asp
fyi
Carl
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