Hi, I'm Tina K. Davis, the founder and rehabber here at Petri's Place.
Buckle up, our story is a bit of a wild one.
I pull into the parking lot, roll down the passenger window of my Cherokee, she tossed in a paper sack full of syringes and sent me on my way.
Just two days earlier my friend and I grabbed a meal at the nacho place next door. While paying the bill, I get this mysterious call from a woman who needed me to take “a few” opossum babies off of her hands. Panicked and desperate, she begged me to wait a few minutes so she could bring them to the nacho place.
She met me with a large shoebox, containing a pink bath towel cut in half as a makeshift bed, and eight tiny babies. Eight, eyes-closed, tube-feeding-sized baby opossums.
Because, you know, in the parking lot of the Mexican restaurant is where you exchange wildlife.
My first real memory of opossums, or “possums” as they were called, was when I was a little girl, probably about seven or eight. There was this strange looking little animal in our front flower bed.
It was always tucked under the plants and would look up at me and hiss.
I wanted it to like me. Heck, I wanted every animal to like me.
I tried as hard as I could to touch it, but it would just open up and show me all fifty of its teeth and hiss.
I just wanted to pet it. I knew if i could do that, it would most definitely like me and be my friend. I didn’t want my parents to know I was trying to bring it in the house. But I thought maybe if it were more comfortable, we could be friends. I didn’t think to feed him. I was still too young to be motivated by food. (Boy how this has changed)
I never did get to touch it. Never got up close enough. I finally learned it was called a “possum” and to leave it be. I was told it was fine. I called him “Creature.”
As an adult my husband and I moved into my grandparent’s old house. On the property we saw one or two ‘possums in nearly fifteen years.
And when we did see them, it was because our dog Jada found it first.
No, it’s not what you’re thinking.
Jada would find the animal and cuddle it, creating a completely uncomfortable situation for the poor ‘possum and it would “die”. (smart lil critter)
My husband took the ‘possum from her and went to set it near the brush pile when it slowly wrapped its tail around his hand. A gentle way of asking “is that thing gone??”
The only other opossum sighting was one found in Jada’s green house toy bucket the next day. Yep, she found it again.
This time instead of putting it in her bed, she tucked it away for later. Once again it was moved to the brush pile, but this time said, “see ya later doggo”.
I literally had no idea that people were scared of them.
It wasn’t until high school I found out people thought possums were ugly and mean and would actually try to kill them. I had a friend call in a panic about one being in her backyard.
A ‘possum. Bringing someone almost to tears. I couldn’t believe it.
If you try to catch an opossum it will literally scream and pass out.
They’re extremely beneficial to have around your property for their pest control and clean up abilities, but they’re basically defenseless.
To the point of pathetic.
So why opossums?
First of all, why not??
Really though, they are the underdog.
Everyone loves a good underdog story right?
I mean, the animal is either considered a rodent (which they absolutely are NOT), garbage (offensive), or road kill. Most people have no idea what an opossum is really like or useful for.
Don’t worry, this isn't about to turn into a biology lesson. You are here to find out why on earth someone wanted to brand a coffee company with a wild-eyed, hissing, drooling, petrified creature of the night on the label.
I’d be curious too.
Well, it started one day at a seemingly innocent ladies-only Valentine’s party. Some lovely friends were gathered at my house for some dignified day-drinking (no shame).
At some point, the conversation turned to opossums and the room was split down the middle. Half of us absolutely adored them, and the other half wanted to know what we were actually pouring in our cups.
Something was set in motion in the universe. I just didn’t know it yet.
Literally, within just a few short days… it was obvious:
I was manifesting opossums.
My aunt Marcy, a Valentine party patron, worked at a nuclear pharmacy nearby. She arrived to work WAY too early for most humans, but just in time to see the nocturnal heading home.
That particular morning, she saw something just out of the corner of her eye. It was opossum number one. Poppy.
She gave me a little time to join the actual living (thanks Aunt Marcy) and texted “do you want a baby possum”? Sleepy-eyed and not quite awake I answered something like “hell yeah I do”.
But wait??? What do I do with a possum?
What do I do with a BABY possum??
Over the next few hours I watched every YouTube video about rescuing the little suckers.
I ordered a cage, beds and other necessities from PetCo and called my mom to pick them up for me on her way home. It was time for me to “work” even though I work from home. I still have to actually “work”.
Aunt Marcy showed up on a “mail run” with the baby snuggled up under a lab coat. Poppy was inside a box you’d normally find reams of office paper in.
This little nugget was terrified and dehydrated.
All three of us were huddled in the kitchen. This time there was no wine. It was a salt/sugar/water mixture to rehydrate the thirsty little one and a cage to put together.
Possum rescuing is no holiday! There was work to be done!
So, one little ‘possum doesn’t sound a whole lot like manifestation.
Wait for it.
The next day, the NEXT day, Aunt Marcy texts again at an alarmingly early hour - “do you want another one?”.
We all know the answer. This one was Petri.
Petri was delivered on yet another “mail run” for work and this time I’m pretty sure Aunt Marcy was wearing the lab coat Poppy had been wrapped in yesterday. I was ready for her arrival and welcomed the little girl with open hands. (clearly too small for open arms)
Still, two is not what you would consider a miracle granted by the forces among the stars. No, it is not.
You see, at the same time, I had to take Jada to the vet. During her appointment, I mentioned the baby opossums to the doctor and went about my day.
Just days later, I got a call from the vet’s office – not about my Jada – but about “baby possums”. I used quotes here for a reason, we’ll get to that.
That’s how I ended up in the parking lot of the Mexican joint with eight new possum babies.
There they were: 8 little noses snuggled inside the shoe box.
Now my little opossum family was definitely “manifested”. Ten little babies.
More cages, more bedding, a whole new recipe for formula, syringes and more medical needs coming up left and right.
This is where that paper bag comes in.
Wormer for the littles tossed through a window with no human contact or conversation.
You are probably wondering why all of this panic and hot potato of possums?
All of the events happened during the very first days of the Covid19 lockdowns.
Everything was chaotic.
No one knew what was open, what was closing, where we were supposed to be or what we were going to do.
The one thing I knew was these eight remaining little babies were going to make it. One way or another.
One of the new babies passed the first night.
Poppy, the first baby, was so dehydrated he developed a prolapsed rectum.
No one could see him.
No vets, no call backs from wildlife centers with advice, nothing was available.
So it began.
Studying, reading, watching, absorbing. Taking any available online recorded courses until something lifted with the pandemic lockdowns.
I needed to become a rehabber.
My call from the universe had been answered. I didn’t send it to voicemail.
I had to do this.
And I did.
I am a licensed rehabber. Officially and legally able to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife in my state.
I am very fortunate to have a full time income and did through the entire lockdown.
What I learned is that operating a rehab, even a tiny one dedicated to only one species (even though we mix it up a little) is extremely expensive.
If you are a rehabber that has non-releasable animals, the options are;
care for them for the rest of their lives or euthanize them.
Both of which have a cost.
All of the supplies, medicine, veterinary care, food - all the things - are self funded.
No state money, no county money, no grants, nothing.
The best you can hope for is operating as a non-profit and accepting donations. Something most home/individual rehabbers cannot do.
This is where the creepy tailed little critters with fifty teeth portrayed on the labels of hoodies, lipstick and coffee, come in.
I needed to raise money.
Almost immediately it was obvious that I'd need help financially immediately and ongoing.
You're on this page so you've figured out a non-profit was stood up and now you can purchase merch directly from our website to support our cause.
But did you also know that we went a little "wild" over here and set up other businesses where 100% of the profits go to Petri's Place as well?
Oh yes we did.
Trash Cat Jack - Men's Grooming Line (coming soon!!)
Monetary and in-kind donations are also accepted directly through Petri's Place.
We also support knowledge sharing and education programs to help as many people as possible learn the truth about opossums and their nocturnal friends.
Not only are they intelligent, beneficial to the environment, loving and adorable creatures but apparently the universe spoke, opossums appeared and a creative, quirky family was created.
We are, the friends of the wild.
At Petri's Place, our mission is to provide rehabilitation and education programs dedicated to the support of helping native wildlife thrive.
A community where native wildlife is respected, protected and valued as a necessary part of the ecosystem.
We promote the security, safety and support of native wildlife and their return to the wild or long term care.
We encourage public awareness and education of wildlife's important role in the ecological community.