Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hello Possum

Snapped last night.

The Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula, from the Greek for "furry tailed" and the Latin for "little fox") is the largest possum, and the Australian marsupial most often seen by city-dwellers, since it is one the very few that thrives in cities as well as a wide range of natural and human-modified environments. Despite its resemblance to a fox's brush, the characteristic tail is prehensile and is naked on its lower underside.

Like most possums, the Common Brushtail is nocturnal. It is mainly a folivore, but supplements its usual diet of leaves with fruit, invertebrates, flowers, buds, and whatever else is available. In most Australian habitats, leaves of Eucalyptus are a significant part of the diet but rarely the sole item eaten. This is probably because of the tannins and other chemical defences present in eucalypt leaves. Around human habitations, Common Brushtails are inventive and determined foragers with a liking for fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and kitchen raids.

They are highly inquisitive and live in troupes of about a dozen individuals with a complex social structure not dissimilar from wolves and primates.

During the day, Common Brushtails sleep in a den in a hollow tree or any other convenient place, notably ceiling spaces that are not securely sealed. Although primarily aboreal and not found in places without trees to provide refuge, they spend a good deal of time on the ground. They are able to stand upright.

This brushtail possum is about the size of a large very muscular cat. I can tell it's arrived by the big "Thump!" nightly on the balcony or the handrail. And from the intial landing, it tends to jump, climb and land all over the place. A quick look with the flashlight reveals one guilty looking possum having a good poke around.

This one rather likes sunflower seeds which I leave out at night from time to time. It's an inquisitive creature, getting stuck in a drainpipe leading from the roof which I had to undo so it could make a welcome escape. I think it's had a fight with amy rather territorial large cat at one stage, cat came off second best and avoids Mr. Possum at all costs!


  • A much prettier possum than our local naked tail variety.

    By Blogger fp, at 2:47 pm  

  • 8:45pm - regular as clockwork - Thump! He's on the roof. Caught him in the kitchen last night munching on a Mango stone. He looks at us - "What?!" They are cheeky!

    By Blogger Kate, at 7:22 pm  

  • No bushtails in US. Just the mean, ugly "naked tail variety" as frank called them. Your description of behavior sounds much like our raccoons.

    By Anonymous Winston, at 10:26 pm  

  • The US and Oz possums are long distant relations Frank.

    Kate, thanks for the recent comments, I had tro shoo this one out of the house after he tried to get the sunflower seeds.

    Winston, I've heard about cat and raccoon fight, sound similar to the possum/cat ones here. We don't have squirrels either, wish we did. Some friends in France had a heap of them bounding in between oak trees.

    By Blogger Johnno, at 6:25 pm  

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