'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

And yet another Possum

This must make the fourth I've caught.  Where do they all come from!?  There are only 13 houses in these two cul-de-sacs, and the river curves around us on three sides and a busy road on the fourth side.  I am astonished.  I would never have thought I'd get so many!  And I still haven't got the Joey, at least I don't think so.

This one looked so appealing, I had to harden my thoughts when I took it up to the dispatcher.  I reminded myself of the baby birds they eat, the eggs they raid, and all the tender growing tips, fruit and buds of the trees they feast on, which can cause the collapse of the forest canopy and reversion to scrublands.

There are probably tens of millions of possums in New Zealand forests, bought here originally for their fur.

They will reluctantly eat leaves and bark, but much prefer fruits, flowers, seeds and insects. Many of our native birds (and our only native mammals, the two surviving species of bat) depend on fruit, and nectar from forest flowers.
And of course if there are no buds, the new leaves cannot grow, and if there is no fruit, there are no seeds for the next generation of trees and plants... and so it goes on.

NZ Department of Conservation article.

Begone, foul dwimmerlaik!


  1. "Where do they all come from!?"...Don't they teach biology in NZ schools?
    Their presence in your beautiful country is like the worst imaginings of a horror fiction writer and the awfullest thing is that you just can't close the stable door after the brush tailed possum has bolted.

  2. We have the same problem here with Mink. There are few water Voles left.

  3. I understand they must be a real pest if you can harden yourself against that look! Eyes like that - and behind bars and all! - somehow automatically makes one perceive him as a character in a Disney movie... and you the evil possum-catcher... ;) (Sorry - I just watched 'Lady & the Tramp' on TV the other day...)

  4. It occurred to me tonight that possums and mink are the humans of the animal world without the good traits. That's pretty damming really.

  5. YP. Yes, yes and yes.
    Adrian - unfortunately someone also introduced mustelids into NZ. Along with rats, they are the biggest direct threat to our ground-nesting birds (which are all either extinct or endangered)
    Ferrets were introduced in 1879 to control rabbits that someone else had introduced earlier and stoats and weasels in 1885 - also to control rabbits. This despite warnings of their effect on native birds.
    Hedgehogs (1870) are also just being recognised as a significant predator too.


    Monica - It is hard, but they must be at least kept under control. For the sake of the birds and the forest. For example, this dear little bird the Hihi: http://www.visitzealandia.com/species-member/hihi/

    Geeb - As Nat would say, 'They're just trying to make a living'...


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