When people hear the word possum many words probably come to mind – scavengers, creepy, dirty. – but adorable is usually not among them. Well, the Twitter page #PossumEveryHour might have unintentionally changed all that, by encouraging people to share photos of their pet marsupials with the internet, and it really shows the critters in a new light. Released every hour, the photos showcase the animals, not as nocturnal trash burglars, but instead cuddled up in towels, wearing party hats, lounging in mini-beds and perched on their owners – and it may make you question everything you ever thought about them.
The page was created by Twitter user @thunderysteak who said the viral page was an experiment that ‘got out of hand.’ “The PossumEveryHour page was simply an experiment to see what Microsoft Flow is capable of,” she told Rare Norm, “If I had known how popular it would get, I would build it completely different from how it’s built right now. To be honest, when I built it and let the bot loose, it only had 4 followers and I completely forgot about it for two months. I realized that it was still running, and I went to shut it down until I saw it already gained over 750 followers.” Turns out there are lots of possum lovers out there.
Possums aren’t the most loved animals, some see them as ugly, other’s hate them for their characteristics
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Possums get a really bad rap, but why? Some people like to cite the fact that they are dirty and carry rabies, but this is actually extremely rare. All mammals can get rabies but because of these animals low body temperature, it is very difficult for the virus to survive. Another complaint is that they knock over trash and spread it about – the truth is it’s the opposite. Possums are very clean and are ‘opportunistic scavengers’ who clean up after others. They not only clean up your trash but eat unwanted visitors such as cockroaches, crickets, beetles, rats, mice, and snakes. They even clean up animal remains.
But despite the public hate on possums, these photos are changing people’s minds one pic at a time
Despite having rat-like features, possums are marsupials – “pouched mammals” like kangaroos or koalas. They are distinct in North America because they hold the title as the only North American marsupial. In total there are over 65 species of opossums, however, the Didelphis virginiana or the Virginia opossum is the only one native to North America.
Thundery Stake refers to the animal as ‘possum’ on her page which is an acceptable spelling in North America along, however, in the rest of the world ‘possums’ and ‘opossums’ are two different animals, “Mostly that people think there’s only one type of possums. If you ever look at the responses of where the account posted an Australian possum, people won’t even know what kind of animal it is or that it isn’t a possum,” she said. The Australian possum is still a marsupial but looks like a cross between a squirrel and a chinchilla and belongs to a different mammalian order.
The average lifespan of this animal is only 1 to 2 years because of predators. Despite having 50 sharp looking teeth, these animals are not aggressive. We all know the famous phrase playing possum (playing dead), the response these animals have to a predator. Well, don’t give these little guys an Oscar just yet, this is an involuntary response, in which they fall into a comatose-like state and cannot control how long it lasts.
PossumsEveryHour was inspired by a different animal page @hourlyFox. As a website developer, the creator of the possum page wanted to copy the page’s functions. So why possums? Since I visit a discussion board where people discuss the terribleterribleterrible webcomic where the main character called Clem is a possum, I already had several pictures of possums on hand.
The creator said that while she is no expert on the animal she encourages the message her page has sent and has learned about them in the process. “Please be nice to possums and don’t harras them. If you see one yourself, you can take a picture from afar without flash but don’t corner them and poke them with a stick or something similar, please.”
As cute as these possum pics are – the account pinned an important PSA about how these creatures shouldn’t be kept as pets
Image credits: PossumEveryHour
Along with a detailed manifesto on why these creatures aren’t meant for domestication
In the possum briefing, acquired from the National Opossum Society, they explain that these animals are very high maintenance and require a very particular diet that, if not followed, can lead to metabolic bone disease, the breakdown of their internal organs or obesity. Females are very prone to urinary tract or genital tract infections. Unlike with dogs or cats, if your opossum gets sick it is very difficult to find a vet specialist who knows how to treat them. The NOS explains that even if you have the resources to say raise an orphan possum the ethical thing to do is to then release it back into the wild.
One of the members of the society even shared their heartbreaking story in the PSA to drive the point home. The contributor said they had rescued an orphan opossum, after the mom had been hit by a car, and thought she could help it using her wildlife experience. Instead, she goes on to say it was the most, “heartbreaking, stressful, confusing and selfish mistakes I have made in my whole life.”
Lots of people in the comments were happy to see possums finally getting some public love
For fans of the page, the developer said she plans on continuing the possum party, ” I’d be crazy not to. If I stopped suddenly, I’d disappoint a lot of people.”