Saturday, 30 August 2008

Little Foxes in My Backyard

Yes it's true. Here in Tasmania I have little foxes in the backyard but not the feral peril you might be thinking of. These are actually possums - Trichosurus vulpecula. The latin name vulpecula literally means 'little fox'. No doubt the name was given to them due to the bushy tail, hence their common name of Brushtail possum.

Scientific studies have shown that these possums spend 16% of there time feeding. Non-scientific studies suggest that most of that feeding is done on my fruit trees. I lost half my apples last autumn which meant I couldn't make the home brewed cider I had planned. They also ate the pears. At the moment they are even having a go at my lemons taking a bite out of each one. Despite this, I actually love having them around. I see it as my responsibility to find new and interesting ways to protect the fruit.

So why was I out photographing possums? Well a couple of weeks ago I took down the wallaby fence as it was unsightly and didn't work anyway. I figured I may as well let the smaller animals come in for a feed as well. I was hoping the bandicoots would come closer to the house. It seems to have worked as twice already I have accidentally flushed what I believe was a bandicoot in broad daylight but I only got a fleeting glimpse. The other night I walked up the hill with the torch hoping to see one but all I found was some of our regular visitors, half dozen Pademelons and a couple of Brushtail Possums. At least one of the possums was kind enough to hang about for a photo or two.

(Click to Enlarge)

Brushtail Possum - Trichosurus vulpecula


Brushtail Possum - Trichosurus vulpecula




6 comments:

  1. :) You scared me a bit with the title of this post, when I saw it on my blog list.
    I love the possums! I used to see them a lot when I worked near Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne two years ago.

    Look at the belly on the first pic! Do you think there's a baby inside the pouch?

    Always good to hear of someone who doesn't hate the native 'beasts' even if they eat their fruit. [Most people I've met just thell me they would like to kill possums -- and these are all educated and decently smart colleagues :( ]

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  2. Lovely to see photos of these Possums. We didn't really do any spotlighting when we came over which is a shame. It's lovely that you consider it an honour to share your produce with the native beasties. Hope the Bandicoot plays ball one of these nights.

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  3. Thanks Tilcheff - Yes it looks like somethings in there but it depends if it's male or female. The second shot is the same possum. Check out this enlargement of the same photo. I'm not sure what I'm looking at but I thought it might have been a male. I'm not that great on possum biology.

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  4. Heh, Heh, Heh,
    Cute little fella's.

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  5. "...new and interesting ways to protect the fruit..." haha that sounds really great indeed! If you do find a way maybe you could tell us all and I could try it on my wicked white cockatoos.
    Oh yes, the photos are great!

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  6. Good on you for being so tolerant Mosura, anyway, the cider might have given you a headache. ;-)

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