3 of Grubby’s offspring captured, more remain at large

The Department of Fish and Game encourages residents to report any sightings
The Department of Fish and Game encourages residents to report any sightings
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 6:02 PM AKDT
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HOMER, Alaska (KTUU) - An opossum that found itself on the streets of Homer after arriving on a cargo container is making headlines once again after a number of her babies have recently been spotted in the town.

The critter called Grubby first became the talk of the Kenai Peninsula back in March after sailing from Washington to Alaska. After a number of reported opossum sightings finally led to her capture by the Homer Police Department, the marsupial was transferred to the Alaska Zoo’s infirmary.

Her legacy, however, is now being carried out by her offspring. Turns out Grubby was a mother, according to Jason Herreman from the Department of Fish and Game.

“We were called by the folks down at [Homer] City Hall, it was one of the young walking past their window,” Herreman said. “We were able to follow up on that and keep eyes on that, and then captured that one by hand.”

Not long after Grubby Jr.’s incarceration, Herreman said additional reports started coming in from the same vicinity. Fish and Game has since found three of the siblings but strongly suspect there are more out there.

According to Herreman, the average litter size of an opossum is 8 to 9 joeys, but up to 13 can survive. More photo reports have come in since the three “grublets” have been apprehended, including a resident who has reported “strange sounds” coming from underneath his house.

Herreman said it’s important the rest of the offspring be found to avoid competition, predation, and disease concerns that come with introducing an invasive species to a new environment.

“Unfortunately, opossums carry a number of diseases — or can carry a number of diseases — that can infect both the local wildlife and humans,” Herreman said. “Some of these can be fairly serious and there’s no way to know, without having the animals in hand, whether or not they have any disease.”

According to Herreman, if left unchecked the opossums would likely be able to survive an Alaskan winter as the temperatures are comparable to that of their home range. Moreover, the assistant wildlife biologist said their breeding season typically occurs toward the end of winter, around January or February.

“They can breed as soon as they get to that 8 to 12 months,” Herreman said. “So basically, that first year of life these little guys — if they survived — could be breeding.”

Herreman said the department’s intent is to provide placements for the opossums after they are all captured, and encourages anyone who finds one to call the Dept. of Fish & Game at 907-235-8191, or the Homer Police Department if it’s outside normal business hours at 907-235-3150.

Residents should not try to capture the animals themselves, instead, keep an eye on them if able until someone from the department arrives.