Thursday, 13 March 2014

It Depends Where You Are

how you regard the possum/opossum.  Here in New Zealand they are regarded as the scourge of our forestry industry and a major problem for indigenous flora and fauna.   There is even a museum dedicated to their extermination.  However in Australia they are almost worshipped as a national icon. Possums are nocturnal so one rarely sees them despite the millions of them that there are all around us.  I've never seen one at The Cottage although we know that they are here.  So when Mo and I were walking through the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and I saw this female with a joey (which is the name for the young of any marsupial) my camera didn't even have to be switched on and I caught her before she made her way quickly to the top of the tree.


24 comments:

  1. That is a chance in a thousand and well taken.

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    1. Adrian I've spoken to many people in Australia who have never seen a possum with a joey. Because they are nocturnal it's unusual to see them in the day anyway.

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  2. At the right place at the right time....great photo GB.

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    1. Absolutely Virginia and thank you.

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  3. Whether one likes them or not, that's a photo to be proud of :) As we don't have any possums here I can afford to just find them exotic and rather cute!

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    1. Thanks Monica. Because of the damage they do here in NZ I can't think of them as cute and the noise they make is bloodcurdling in the night and definitely not cute.

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    2. Yes I think I 'got the picture' of the possums in NZ from Katherine's blog a while ago! :)

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  4. Great photo, GB.

    As to the question of whether they are friend or pest, here in Washington State they're considered pests, just one step up from brown rats. They get into garbage cans, and can make a terrible mess. They aren't indigenous to Washington, but were brought in by people moving here from the Deep South of the United States, where they are part of the native fauna. However, the little varmints really seem to like the Northwest climate and have adapted very well. I haven't seen any recently, but I know they're still around, and every now and then you'll see one squashed on the highway as road kill.

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    1. I should also add that our oppossums don't have nice fluffy tails, but skinny scaly ones like rats. And wicked teeth.

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    2. Yes Carol 'our' possums are called 'brush-tailed possums' and are brown and larger (about 35" long) than the American opossum.

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  5. What a wonderful photo! Sadly, the only time that we really catch a glimpse of the possums around here....they're no longer alive.

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    1. I'm sorry Heather but here in NZ the only adead possum is considered a good possum! They do so much damage to native flora and fauna.

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  6. Great shot, Graham. It took me a long time after I came to NZ to accept that possums really are pests in this country where they weren't 'designed' to live in harmony with their environment.

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    1. Thanks Pauline. I find it strange when I go to Australia to find them so loved.

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  7. Whenever a non-indigenous species takes over a place, it is considered a pest. Seems rather unfair if we think about how our own species was originally limited to a relatively small area in Africa, before it took over (nearly) the whole planet. And of course, made sure the indigenous species of central Europe, the Neanderthal, became extinct within a few thousand years.
    Anyway, the (o)possum looks cute - which should not be a criterium for let it live, just as a less-cute looking species should not be killed simply because of its lack of cuteness. But such is man, fickle and shallow, with me no exepction.

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    1. Somehow Meike you don't strike me as a fickle and shallow person but I suppose, to some extent, as you say, we humans are just that when it comes to our inconsistent approach to so many things. They may look cute by the way but they can be vicious and have a really mean set of teeth.

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  8. Some of our fellow human beings - past and present - are so monumentally stupid when it comes to exporting flora and fauna. It's probably too late now. New Zealand didn't deserve the brushtail possum just as it didn't deserve the Polynesian rat or the domestic cat. Their impact has been so terribly tragic.

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    1. YP I could not agree more when it comes to introducing alien flora and fauna without thought or knowledge as to the consequence.

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  9. Feral animals are a real curse where ever you are. Yes, we do love our cute little possums and they don't seem to cause the damage here that they do in NZ but I do understand why they hate them over there.

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    1. Helsie as I said in answer to an earlier comment I find it strange when I go to Australia to hear how they are regarded with affection but then here they do so much damage.

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  10. Ooh, wonderful shot. I must say I would have thought they damaged Australian agriculture as much as NZ's but there is no accounting for what people are fond of. Just think of how everyone loves grey squirrels - at least till you find them digging up and eating the expensive spring bulbs!

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    1. Jenny I'm not a lover of Grey Squirrels but I think that's largely because I grew up with Red Squirrels in the forests of Cheshire and the Greys ousted them. So far as damage cause by possums it's a question, I think, of what is indigenous. The possum is native to Australia and lives with the other native species (I'd like to see it try and attack a duck-billed platypus!) whereas in NZ it eats all before it (NZ has virtually no indigenous mammals but lots of birds which produce eggs as well as baby birds - yum for possums). They also damage the trees which, together with dairy products, are the basis of the NZ economy. So much of Australia's wealth comes from minerals (I'm not sure where sheep figure in the wealth creation stakes these days but I can't see that possums could interfere with them anyway).

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