Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Memories of Possums

While looking around the blogsphere yesterday I came across a post on Snails Eye View telling a tale of possum magic.  This started me thinking about interactions I have had with possums.   Thinking about things led to a search of my photographs and then a bit of composition.

I don't know what sort of possums Snail has but the most commonly seen ones in the areas we have lived are the Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula).
That image is from our house in Bruce, circa 2003, where the villain is liberating some food put out for parrots.

The particular part of Snail's story that attracted my attention was how she got them out of the kitchen.  I have had a few close interactions with these animals and the stories are quite amusing - in hindsight.

The first of the tales relates to our first house in Brighton, South Australia.  We had some possums which occasionally invaded our roof space and thundered about waking us up.  (For those who have not been so blessed, an animal weighing about 3kg sounds as though it is the size of a draught horse when running across gyprock ceiling.)

Eventually I found out where they getting in, and after getting into the roof space and making a lot of noise to scare them out, blocked the hole with chook netting.  Unfortunately the next night there was more thundering: I'd blocked one in!

So back into the ceiling space just in time to see a tail disappear down beside a chimney breast.  I covered the top of the hole and got some industrial gloves, used to handle red-hot pipe, and an old sack we happened to have around.  Using a squeeze-mop down the hole I persuaded the possum to come to the top of the hole and after a period of MAD (Mutually Assured Distrust) was able to insert the possum in the sack.  As I did so, it bit me.  To my astonishment it broke my skin through the gloves (I hope snail was wearing serious footwear - steel toe-capped Redbacks would seem useful).

Anyway into the sack and off for a walk along the night-time beach to an area of bushland.  As I went I noticed Mr (or Ms) Plod having a smoko looking over the beach.  Despite my keen anticipation of what might happen if they asked to see what was in my sack, the sight was not suspicious enough to interupt a Winfield.  The marsupial was duly released.

A less happy outcome arose in about 1997 when we arrived at our weekender and found a possum had fallen down into our slow-combustion stove and died during our three week absence.  Removing the well decayed corpse caused a major bout of dry retching and a firm vow to prevent a recurrence.  This was achieved by chook wire being attached to the chimney.

Fast forward about another 10 years and Frances and I were visiting her Mum (in Hove South Australia, next suburb to Brighton( see following screeengrab).
About 1am I heard a suspicious noise in the lounge.  As the place had been burgled once, I went to investigate and on opening the curtains to check the condition of the windows found a possum hanging off the venetian blind.  I hurriedly shut the door - to limit the damage to one room - opened the front door and positioned Frances with a blanket to shepherd the beast outside.  This was achieved with relatively little drama.  Judging by the amount of poop in the lounge it had: 

  • been there for some time: and 
  • become rather distressed.  

It had obviously come down the chimney so next morning I was up there (without Cazaly but I do urge you all to follow that link) affixing more chook wire.

After Frances' mum passed away we were clearing out the garage and right at the last stage of this found a possum resting in a snug place.  It was persuaded to depart - after posing for a photo.
At Carwoola the possums used to come around when we first arrived.

However our fruit trees were getting destroyed so these were captured in a humane trap and taken elsewhere and released.  To my surprise they have not returned nor been replaced (and you'd better believe I am touching wood as I type that).

We have found a couple of dead Sugar Gliders around the property but have no idea what has killed them.  They do, infrequently, call around the house at night but I have never seen one.


Anonymous said...

Wow Possums in Australia are way cuter than the ones we have in the US

Flabmeister said...

G'day Anonymous
Despite having lived in North America for 5 years (between 1980 and 2006) and visited several other times I have never seen an American possum in the wild. Thus I can't compare them.

However I reckon Raccoons are cuter than wombats!