It was dusk and nearly dark when I was standing at the sliding glass door watching the softening contrast of trees and tall bushes against the darkening sky. Movement caught my eye and I watched what seemed like a shadow scurrying along the top of my fence.

Even without direct light on it, I knew it was a possum by the size, shape and the way it moved.

I’ve watched these fascinating critters for hours in the faint light of dusk or minor illumination filtering out of windows. This is their time of evening to forage and I welcome them. They are far from the cutest critters to visit our backyards, but I welcome them because I consider them the cleanup crew.

Opossums are help to control rodent and insect populations.

Opossums are help to control rodent and insect populations.

I’d invite one inside to help me with a few problems, but they hide too darn well for me to be sure I could find it when I wanted it to leave. And then, what the critter would do in the kitchen would be messy at best.

When possums are on the prowl outdoors, the populations of mice, rats and insects are going to plummet. So will worms, snails and most anything else that looks tasty to a possum; that includes the leftover dog food or cat food in the dish and the water in the water bowl.

It is only fair to mention that possums are omnivores, so some of your tasty garden vegetables, strawberries, etc., may go missing or appear chewed up. All-in-all, these critters are pure survivors and will find a way to make a meal in even a seemingly barren yard.

Neither end of an opossum is very pretty because of a very plain face and a long bald tail. The middle part is okay because it has a normal critter shape and is covered with short hair. When they open their mouths, it is apparent they can pull off being a carnivore because they have some sharp working teeth.

Being a very shy critter, they would far prefer to scurry away from trouble than face it, yet when they feel cornered, they will give a good showing of their scrapping abilities. Confrontations even with pets are usually more scary for the possum than for the family pet.

These critters serve as part of my cleanup crew outside and my general feeling is that they are welcome. Also, I appreciate that they do their work primarily at night, leaving my yard to me and the family pet during the day.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Capt. David Bacon, Noozhawk Columnist

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.