Pet of the Day

January 22, 2001

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JJ, the Pet of the Day
Name: JJ
Age: One year old
Gender: Male
Kind: Short-Tail Possum
Home: East Northport, Long Island, USA
   JJ came to live with us in August, 2000. Our daughter wanted a furry, cuddly friend in addition to the four birds that we already had. After much research we decided on a guinea pig, but when we went to pick one out we saw JJ, who had just returned from a children's petting zoo party, and fell in love! We had never even seen a short-tail possum before! He loved to be held and scratched and his favorite place was on your shoulder. We put a deposit on him and went home to do tons of research.

    We found out that short-tail possums are marsupials from the rainforest of South America. Although similar in appearance to the oppossums that we all know here in the US they are totally different animals. They are much smaller (JJ is at his full length now of about 9" including his tail), and although their tail is prehensile it is not weight-bearing so they cannot hang from trees. After learning as much as we could, we picked JJ up a few days later and proceeded to learn even about this utterly fascinating little fellow. They said only a ten or fifteen gallon tank was required for him but we had an old 30 gallon long tank that we set up for him (we call it his mansion) that included a ferret water bottle, a half-log to sleep and dig under, a running wheel, and a little crawl-in shelter in a corner. Since he is nocturnal, he loves to run on his wheel all night long. (The occasional drop of olive oil on the wheel helps keep the squeaking down!) It is so funny how he holds his tail over his head when he is running. He sleeps most of the day but comes out to stretch and run occasionally.

    JJ is also more than happy to come out and be held, talked to and scratched. His favorite place to be is right on your shoulder for hours at a stretch. He loves to meet and be around people and will allow anyone to hold him. He has never even shown any signs of aggression to anyone. Similar to a ferret, he picks a certain place in his cage to do his business and even lets us know when he has to go if he happens to be on our shoulder.

    JJ loves a variety of foods and will eat just about anything we offer him. He gets a daily diet which includes fruits, veggies and ferret food. He also gets a calcium source every day such as hard-boiled eggs (shell included), vanilla pudding or unsweetened/no fat yogurt. He also thoroughly enjoys pasta, chicken, beef, and turkey. In addition, we alternate daily with crickets and wax worms. It is pretty amazing how he becomes a hunter when he sees the crickets. He never ceases to let us know how much he loves feeding time... his little nose comes out from under his log sniffing away and keeps on sniffing until he finds the source of what smells so good! He looks so cute while he sits on two feet while he eats holding his food in his little pink hands... he reminds me of a hungry child eating an afternoon snack!!

    JJ makes no sounds (unless you want to count sniffing as one!!). Recently however, he has started to make this whirring type of purr sound while sitting up on two feet or stretched out on top of his log. We are not sure what the sound means but he seems to make it when he is feeling content. Every morning as we are getting ready for the day, JJ will be getting ready for bed. We give him a tissue to help make his bed nice and soft. He proceeds to rip up the tissue and then wraps his tail around it and carry it with him while he decides where he wants to make his daily den. He looks so funny with his tail wrapped around this big wad of tissue while he struts around!! We love JJ very much and enjoy having him as our friend. He seems to enjoy us also!! We wanted to share the story of us getting to know this unique and loveable little fellow and thought this would be the best place to do it.


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