I swear Mother Nature was out to get me today. It began with the washer/dryer. While Austin was preparing to stack the washer/dryer, I thought it would be a good time to get out the vacuum and clean out the dryer vent, which you are supposed to do on a regular basis but had never been done in five years. As I was vacuuming out all the lint, a large chunk hit the attachment. I picked it off and turned it over and over trying to figure out what in the world it was. After a couple minutes of handling the golf ball sized object, I recognized the "string" coming out of it as a tail and could make out a few tiny feet. I had been holding a very dead, petrified, lint-covered mouse. Eewww!!!! I immediately dropped it in the trash and washed my hands over and over. They didn't feel clean for the rest of the day.
After Googling "opossum" from the safety of the kitchen, I learned they are relatively harmless unless cornered. It also explained the "dead animal" odor that I had noticed in the garage for the last couple days, and likely explains why the plastic garbage can containing the bird seed has holes chewed in it.
**Note** A few days after this incident I noticed possum roadkill four blocks from our house. I'm hoping it was this guy.