Social media commenters were delighted to learn that the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) in Ann Arbor, Michigan recently rescued a possum born with “underdeveloped” eyes, rendering it blind.
The Humane Society shared the news in a public Facebook post that has received over 1,500 likes and dozens of comments from people thanking the rescue team for saving the “precious” creature.
According to the post, someone called HSHV about the possum—named Sylvester—after spotting him in the wild. At first, the rescue team thought maybe some sort of attack had left the possum blind. However, a more thorough examination told a different story.
“There was no sign of injury or trauma to his face, so we suspect he was born with underdeveloped eyes,” Michael Shivak, a rescue field officer with HSHV, told Newsweek.
“The most surprising thing was that Sylvester was in such good shape given his disability and age,” Shivak continued. “While born blind, opossums will need to see once they are no longer reliant on their mother for food. Sylvester was approaching full grown by the time he found his way to us, and it is difficult to tell how long he was managing on his own for.”
Sylvester now resides at the Wildside Rehabilitation and Education Center—a non-profit organization in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. A spokesperson for the center told Newsweek that Sylvester loves spending time with the staff and said his disability hasn’t stopped him from getting around.
“Sylvester loves to sit on shoulders, and even your head if you are wearing a hat that he likes. He also likes to hang out in his backpack pouch, keeping employees and volunteers company throughout their workday,” Wildside’s spokesperson said. “While sight is an obvious handicap, his nose and whiskers help him get around without too much trouble.”
Those with HSHV said they were “impressed” by Sylvester’s resilience, and Shivak called him a “joy.”
There were absolutely no issues [with the rescue]. While most wildlife we rescue is obviously sick or injured and stressful; Sylvester was a joy,” Shivak said. “Our main concern was making sure he was not in any type of discomfort; and I think, on some level, he understood that we did not mean any harm towards him.”
Facebook commenters loved the story and thanked the HSHV team for rescuing the “poor baby.”
“Poor baby thank you for helping him,” Brenda said.
“Thank you for helping this precious being,” Laurie Black wrote.
“That is so awesome that he gets to live out his life in a safe sanctuary. Thanks to all involved in getting him to safety,” Sandy commented.
Justin added: “Thanks for saving them. Possums are awesome but about everyone I know is scared of them and kills them.”
Are Possums Dangerous?
Despite their bad reputation, the Humane Society of the United States said possums are gentle creatures.
“Opossums get a bum rap. Often seen as a pest and accused of everything from knocking over garbage cans to killing chickens, these quiet marsupials are rarely a threat and are easily sent on their way,” the Humane Society said.
Not only are these animals not aggressive—their open-mouthed hissing is simply a “bluff,” said the Humane Society—they can also be beneficial to gardens.
“[Possums will eat] snails, slugs, insects and sometimes even small rodents. They’ll even clean up spilled garbage and fruit that has fallen off trees,” the Humane Society explained.
Other Animal Rescues
In March, an animal shelter in Maryland announced that Max, a beagle that’d been previously abandoned in a parking lot, found his forever home.
In February, a rescue cat born with a missing eye and nostril went viral on Facebook.
And a dog named Betty White smashed adoption application records at a Houston shelter in January, accruing 10 applications in just two hours.