North Bay Village's possum problem blamed on cat food

The morning of August 21, a pesky intruder found itself caged in the lush back yard of Richard Chervony's three-bedroom residence in North Bay Village. Bearing its fangs and emitting a guttural growl, the creature spied Chervony with its black doll eyes. Its furry, salt-and-pepper body and bald, pink tail didn't move. "It was bigger than the one I caught the night before," Chervony asserts. "Both of them were ugly as shit."

Chervony showed Riptide photos he took of the dastardly being. It looked like a mutant flesh-eating rat from Mars. In reality, it is the only marsupial native to North America, and it often wreaks havoc on the psyche of the average South Florida homeowner. In North Bay Village, the possum epidemic began about three years ago, Chervony says. "I've personally trapped about eight or nine of them," he notes. "It's gotten so bad I don't have to lay any bait. They just follow the scent of the other possums."

He wants the North Bay Village Police Department to take over possum-trapping duties because it costs him $150 every time he has to call a nuisance-animal removal service to wrangle the varmints. Miami-Dade Animal Services won't take the possums away because his fellow residents created the problem, Chervony adds. "We've got people who feed stray cats, so when they leave food out, it attracts the possums and raccoons," he says. "I can't put up with it anymore."

Joe Perez, who's been trapping possums for 15 years, says the marsupials love to take advantage of dumpsters, fallen fruit from trees, and unattended cat food. "It's not the animal's fault," Perez says. "Possums can adapt to any urban environment."

Trappers usually either release the possums into the wild or euthanize them. There are also folks, such as the Possum Posse of Miami and 19-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident Trina Mason, who rescue the critters. "They are really harmless," says Mason, who was 15 when she rescued her first possum. Her MySpace profile photo shows her holding a possum dressed in a Rasta-themed baby onesie and a dreadlocked wig.

"I just don't think people understand them," she says, adding that as pets, possums can live up to 18 years. "So I like to change their perspective."

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Any cat food you can find at a regular supermarket has the equivalence of human fast food. It has the bare minimum of nutrients cats needs and often less.Specialty foods, like Science Diet, cost considerably more but your cat will live longer and healthier. If giving your pet a specialty pet food diet is going to break your wallet in two, you can combine the cheap stuff with the healthy stuff to make the healthy stuff stretch longer and the cat will have more nutrients than the regular stuff can give her.


Nature Freak
Nature Freak

Can't the possums just be left alone? Why do they need to be trapped? Are people in Miami Dade that scared of wild animals? I live north of Tampa, and here Opossums, like other wild native animals in my neighborhood, are allowed to roam free. I see them occasionally at night, and as long as you don't mess with them, they are harmless. No one calls animal control unless the animal is hurt. You people in Miami Dade are total wimps when it comes to nature. Maybe the solution is for everyone down there to pave over any greenery you have left.


Possums are extremely clean and they actually pick up spoiled fruit and keep areas cleaned up. They have very poor eyesight therefore, getting into bad situations (for it) .They are docile and only snarl if cornered. But would just as easily prefer to 'play possum'. If you see one squashed on the road, if you safely can, check it's pouch to see if any babies are trapped alive.

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