Monday, March 14, 2005


I read this anti-possum rant in Saturday's Age and thought how sad that some people favour roses and lemons over wildlife. I'm one of the dreaded possum protectors. Except that recently I failed to live up to the put-down.

I had to bury a small ringtail the other day, killed by a domestic dog, this one, the blue heeler. We are guilty.
When I wrote about Flo stalking marsupials in the evening, I didn't think she'd catch one, just as I can't see her ever snaring the helicopters that fascinate her. I thought she watched from a slow, abstract distance, from behind verandah railings. But the hot night may have made the possums sluggish or clumsy and she pounced. I got there moments too late.
It was a beautiful creature
We know. Flo should be living on some sheepless farm, or on the back of a ute guarding tools with her inner demons. This is not her natural habitat.
She is now banned from going out at night.

Regarding the apparently vexed question of living with possums, I prefer the spirit shown by this wildife refuge
Roses … my father's favourite plants … abound, much to the delight of our non-feathered garden inhabitants ... the Brushtail and ringtail possums ...
who, quite obviously, are of the firm opinion these were planted exclusively for their gastronomic enjoyment

In this suburb and others old houses are getting pulled down steadily along with their old trees, and even lemon trees are pretty passe. Paved outdoor rooms with a few ornamentals would seem to be the favoured horticultural style, and there are leaflets asking if we have a backyard for sale. This rented house with a few mature trees, spare land and a handful of brushtails is probably on borrowed time. I do admire the roses down the road, but I wouldn't begrudge the possums some flowery supplement to their diet for as long as it lasts.

see also Attracting native wildlife to your garden from the Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia

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