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3 May 2007

Rayburn Twins Rescue Baby Opossum

Twin daughters of Dr. & Mrs. Jim Rayburn—Tabitha, shown here from left, and Kaitlin, both age 11—recently rescued a baby opossum whom they named "Sparky"—perhaps for the many sparkling teeth protruding from his little mouth brightening up his smile. The girls presented their find to the JSU Field Schools' wildlife collection for rehabilitation and eventual release to the wild.

"I've got the coolest job," grins Renee Morrison at JSU Field Schools. "How many other folks can honestly say that while at work someone drops by the office to deliver a baby opossum?!"

Dr. Jim Rayburn was working in his garden yesterday when he heard a strange noise... his dog and cat seemed to be extremely interested in something on the ground. Upon further investigation, he realized they had discovered a baby opossum.

"I gently put my hoe down next to him and the little fellow climbed I lifted the hoe, the opossum wrapped his prehensile tail around it and dangled almost cartoon-like."

Sparky shown here smiling (with all 50 of his opossum teeth).

Mrs. Rayburn and twin daughters, Kaitlin and Tabitha, made certain that "Sparky" the opossum was unharmed, safe, fed and watered.

The Rayburns decided to donate Sparky to the JSU Field Schools' live animal collection until he is ready to be released into the wild.

Renee Morrison is trained in wildlife rescue and rehabilition. She will take good care of Sparky...making certain that he has fully recovered from his exciting adventures ("Over the Hedge") before she releases him in a safe place near where he was captured.

We believe Sparky is around sixteen weeks old. This is about the age that Momma 'Possum has said, "Go forth and find your own destiny." When a baby opossum is 6-8" in length and approximately 1/2 pound in weight, it is old enough to survive on its own.

Note:    It is well documented that children of faculty in the JSU Biology Department know to whom they should bring their find's from the wild—none other than Renee Morrison of the JSU Field Schools. Remember the Cline children's find also donated to the Field Schools' wildlife collection?—see Cline Children Present Gift of "King Friday" to JSU.

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