Carson the opossum has "died," again

Meet Carson, he's a rescued opossum currently being rehabilitated at For Fox Sake Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Poor thing, he dies every day. Over and over.

But don't worry, he doesn't actually die every day, but he does "play possum." KPAX explains that opossums pretending to be dead aren't just being dramatic, but are in fact involuntarily entering a state called "tonic immobility," which is "a physiological response to extreme stress." KPAX goes on: 

They have no conscious control over this. It's like they're slipping into a stress-induced snooze session. The possum's heart rate slows down, breathing becomes shallow, and they obviously look dead.

Biologists believe this response is linked to a predator's instinct to release prey that's seemingly lifeless — kind of like a "yuck, this isn't appetizing anymore" reaction. . . 

When a possum becomes involuntarily immobilized it can take them anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to start moving again.

A publication in Clinical Autonomic Research hypothesized that our ancestors may have had a similar response to threats during Paleolithic times — developing a fainting response to fear as a survival strategy. Fainting triggered by fear-circuitry activation had an evolutionary advantage in a similar way of trying not to get eaten by appearing dead.

I feel so bad for swee little Carson. Luckily, Juniper, who takes care of the animals For Fox Sake, understands that Carson "dies" because of stress, and they try their very best to treat them as gently as possible. Juniper explains through several very educational TikTok videos that they only touch Carson when absolutely necessary, and it's usually in the context of weighing the small opossum to see when he's gained enough weight to be released. 

I'm happy to report that all of Juniper's hard work has paid off! Carson is currently healthy and will finally be ready to be released into the wild next week! Hooray! Thanks, Juniper, for taking such great care of Carson!

The For Fox Sake website explains on its website that they are "dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured native animals." They continue:

We have a special focus on saving under-served wild animals including skunks, foxes, raccoons, bobcats, reptiles, and amphibians.

For Fox Sake is permitted by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, with special authorization for species considered high-risk for rabies. We also professionally certified through the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, and maintain care that meets or exceeds all standards set by the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association. Additionally, we are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to possess and exhibit native animals.

To see more of Carson before he's released into the wild, as well as all of the other rescue animals at For Fox Sake, check out their website or follow them on TikTok or Instagram.


Replying to @DrucillaZ what Carson eats. Also: Carson dies.

♬ original sound – For Fox Sake Wildlife Rescue

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