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Alt.pets

Interviews with people who own unusual animals

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Playing possum

By Billy Manes

"People think they're mean, but they're not," Taylor Bulloch says, as his rather docile-seeming pet opossum, Rae, clutches his collar in his south Orlando living room. "Their defense mechanism is to play dead. That's about as aggressive they get."

Bulloch acquired his lazy furball (with a prehensile tail) about a year ago, when a friend and wildlife rehabilitator rescued Rae and her seven siblings after the mother was injured. Initially, Bulloch thought Rae to be a male (Ray), but in a moment of bizarre revelation, the truth came out. "I found out she was a girl when my finger accidentally slipped into her pouch."

There are many curiosities about opossums – bifurcated penises and vaginas among them; also, they typically only survive two years in the wild, and up to six in captivity – but for Bulloch, Rae's just a sweet pet: She uses the litter box, keeps herself clean, clings to his hair, rides around on the back of his schnoodle named Doyle and generally entertains like a lady of the night when not sleeping in his oversized bedroom wardrobe.

"She wakes up at night at about 10:30, when I'm sitting down to dinner," he says. "I hear the wardrobe creak open, and all of a sudden you hear a thump."

Though not recommended as pets – Bulloch keeps close contact with his licensed wildlife-expert friend, who is raising Rae's siblings to be released in the wild – Rae suits Bulloch's rural Floridian upbringing just fine: right down to the bit of wistful folklore he pulls out while Rae sniffs around an avocado piece in his hand. He may be expanding the truth a little bit, but he does, after all, have a pet opossum.

"I was in Cassadaga and I was getting my palm read, and the lady said, 'You're going to come across a very unusual spirit guide: You can whisper your problems into her pouch,'" Bulloch spins a yarn. "So, every morning I wake up and whisper my problems into her pouch."

Super goat man

By Shelby England

Orlando Weekly: What kind of pet do you have? Joe McBride: I have two pygmy goats, a white and a brown, a mama and a baby. Pygmy goats are miniature goats. The white one is called Mama, because she's the mama, and the baby brown one's name is Brownie. I got them from my old roommate at the house I used to live at before he moved to Alabama four years ago.

What do you do with them – take them for walks? Play with them? Just feed them and watch them eat? I just let them roam around the yard. My goats are very people-friendly. They love people! They are also herding animals and very scared, too, so they don't like bigger animals. The previous owner, my old roommate, actually trained one to walk on a leash and would take them downtown, even in bars, but I don't do that. 

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