Possum 2
Hello there! This is what Berkeley resident April Gilbert saw right outside her home office window on Monday this week. Photo: April Gilbert

It may have been April Fool’s day, but there was nothing funny about the fright Berkeley resident April Gilbert got when she spotted what she thought was a giant white rat right outside her window on Monday.

“I initially thought it was a gigantic — as in 15 to 20 lbs — white rat,” said Gilbert who lives on Russell Street. “It came up very close to my office window and sat looking at me for several minutes before waddling off along my fence. I felt a bit traumatized by the experience, especially on my namesake day, but managed to take some photos of it with my phone.”

Gilbert concluded the creature was an albino opposum. Photo: April Gilbert

Gilbert then did what so many of us do when we’re in search of answers, and Googled the creature to find out what it actually was. The answer? What appears to be an albino opossum (though we await an expert’s view — even the results of a Google search are fairly inconclusive on the albino variety).

Opposums are nocturnal animals that are usually solitary and nomadic, staying in one area as long as food and water are easily available, according to Wikipedia. They are also responsible for the term “play possum.” When threatened or harmed, they will “play possum,” mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal.

Meanwhile Gilbert will be happy if Monday’s is the only encounter she ever has with the creature.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it, and am hoping it isn’t planning daily visits,” she said.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...