When we lived in Scotts Valley, California we were very accustomed to frequent visitations of wildlife. The most common animals in our area were, deer, bobcats, skunks, raccoons, and opossums. We had a family of skunks that frequented us and we had no problem discerning when mother was anxious. We caught glimpses of them travelling along, little babies following their momma. They looked so cute, but ooooo weeeee can that fragrance linger. Believe it or not, we got used to it. I am not sure what predator can reduce the population of skunks but there are too few of them in that area. The skunks are prolific. You really have no choice about the frequency of skunk musk.
We also had several encounters with opossums. One mother chose our garage room for her litter of kits annually. This animal is perhaps the only species whose babies look scary. Those alligator shaped jaws with rows of teeth, beady eyes, and ratty looking fur, do not look approachable. Baby opossums also hiss like snakes. I was unsure of how repulsive these creatures were until one morning when I saw three of the babies in the window sill of the garage room. Piglet was three. We had a large lovely redwood deck that my husband and his sons had built with a very well made fence of 2 by 6's hooked together with bolts. It was beautiful and secure. The girls felt very safe and loved their play area. I asked Piglet if she would like to see some baby opossums. We studied all kinds of wildlife when they were small. We went on lots of field trips and learned about all kinds of critters so I thought she might be interested. Wrong!
Piglet took one look at the opossums in the window sill ,and began running. she stuck her skinny little arms straight up in the air as she ran laps around the deck. "Call the complice! (police), Papa, where's Papa, oh Jesus come and save us!" She was running fast, and yelling for all she was worth. I thought I might pee my pants from laughing so hard. I did not mean to frighten the child. That was when my suspicions about opossums appeal ,even in infancy, were confirmed. They are not ever interesting animals. Papa did come to the rescue. He had very big welding gloves that went to his elbows. He was good at catching those buggers. He always put them in a tall bucket and drove them down to the creek. He should've drowned them but he didn't. He can't kill anything.
Another one of these critters must have eaten 25 pounds of science diet cat food. Papa's daughter was living in our garage room and she kept trying to tell her Dad that some kind of animal was living in there and eating up the cat food. She finally trapped it in there by closing all the doors. We used to keep everything open. She came inside and urged her Dad, "Poppy come out here you won't believe this!" He went to our neighbors to borrow a large animal trap. This opossum must have weighed 30 pounds, it was huge! Papa and daughter made a slip noose on a rope and lassoed the giant fat creature by the neck. It was hissing. when they picked it up to put it in the trap the noose tightened. The 30 pounds of hissing began to writhe, fight, and poop. It was a relatively short trip to the cage, and the animal pooped everywhere. Scared poopless.
When Pa returned from the drive to the creek he had the garage and the trap to clean up. Our monthly use of cat food decreased significantly. That opossum would've made a hillbilly a fine stew, fattened on premium cat food. We did not care to indulge.
My husband the non-alarmist didn't worry about the same things I did. The weather was so nice we loved to have the house full of fresh air almost year round. We had the windows and doors open most of the time. My only exception to this, was leaving our bedroom door open at night. We had French doors but no screens. There was no other way to get air into the room, but I had fussed about screen doors. I hated being an available meal ticket to mosquitoes all night. In the summer it gets pretty hot, so Pa won and the doors stayed open.
One night I awoke to a scratching sound underneath our bed. I quit breathing. Listening intently, I waited and heard it again. My nerves went into overdrive. WHAT was that? That's all we needed, a skunk in the house. I woke Pa. "There's sumthin under the bed!" Pa was not pleased. He was grumbling and irritated. I insisted, "You have to look!" The man of the house, our protector, got up and turned on the lights. He was grumbling. "There's nothing in here, wake me up in the middle of the night for nothing," he was now bending over and looking under the bed with a flashlight. His countenance changed. His voice softened. He chuckled. "It's a liiiittttttle baby opossum," he said. He went to the garage and came back with the long gloves and the bucket. I was sitting bolt upright in bed. We have established that even baby opossums are not cute. He began trying to catch that critter. All opossums poop when they are scared and this one began running laps around the perimeter of our bedroom leaving streaks of opossum diarrhea all over my light rose rug. Glorious! He finally caught the little poop and went to the creek in the middle of the night. When he came back to bed I had one question for him, "Just how far away is that creek?"