Saturday, December 20, 2014
   
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Oil change turns into strange encounter at Dawson Tire

Rick Johnson had a car on a hoist Monday when he removed an oil filter and noticed something out of the corner of his eye.

“I thought it was a cat in an engine compartment,” said the assistant service manager at Dawson Tire Service Inc.

During the 30-some years Johnson has serviced cars, he said he’s discovered about 10 cats hiding in engine compartments.

“I’ve also found mice and a rabbit,” he said. “They crawl up inside to keep warm.”

As Johnson reached for a coat and glove to protect himself during removal of the feline, someone else peered through a fender well and spotted something else.

A possum.

Johnson said he wanted to get the animal out as quickly as possible so it wouldn’t use its sharp teeth to chew on wires.

He also didn’t want sharp teeth biting into his hand.

“So I put on a glove and pulled it out carefully,” Johnson said.

After shooing the possum out of the door with his boot, the marsupial flipped on his side and . . . played possum.

The varmint hung around most of the day but had disappeared by Tuesday morning, Johnson said.

Asked if the possum was the most unusual creature he’d encountered, Johnson said it wasn’t.

While working in Cozad, he said he reached for an oil filter and thought he’d touched a wiring harness.

Instead, it was the torso of a very large bull snake.

Johnson said he grasped the snake very carefully to avoid being bitten, noting that the species is aggressive with a dirty mouth from eating mice.

Luckily, he could release the reptile into a nearby vacant field.

What was unusual about finding the possum, Johnson said, is that the days and nights have been fairly warm for winter which made him wonder whether it was sick.

Johnson told the owner about the extra passenger in her car, and quipped that he hoped it wasn’t a family pet.

“She said it was the second time something like that had happened,” Johnson said.

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