For me it means a day off to spend some fun time with my family and it also gives me a chance to reprint another one of my Australia and New Zealand magazine articles.
This one appeared in their June edition. It’s called…
Iconic Australian entertainer Dame Edna Everage would often greet her audiences with those words. What is a possum though? And in real life, living down under, how often do Australians cross paths with possums?
Does saying “hello possum” to a possum happen very often? How many possums have I said hello to? Yes, today’s article is about possums.
Let’s start with answering the question “what is a possum?”
It would be easy to say that a possum is a cute little furry thing that lives in Australia. The real answer though is a bit more of a mouthful, because a possum is a medium-sized quadrupedal diprotodont arboreal marsupial with a long thick tail that is native to Australia, New Guinea and Sulawesi (Indonesia).
I prefer cute little furry thing, but maybe, to be more specific, I should say a medium-sized four-legged two big front toothed tree climbing furry thing that carries its young in a pouch AND has a long thick tail.
So now we know what a possum is.
You might also like to know that the possum got its name from Captain Cook’s botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, who named the Australian animal a possum because it ‘looked like’ the American opossum. They are not related though and Australian possums are undeniably cuter.
So how often do we see these cute things in Australia?
Well, they are nocturnal, so you are very unlikely to see one during the day, but at night it’s a different story. I’ve seen lots of possums in my time here; my very first encounter was as I was watching drivel TV in my lounge.
It was late at night, my mind was wandering, my head inexplicably tilted slightly to the left at some point and I found myself staring at a critter who was staring straight back at me through the window.
There we were, staring at each other.
To break the ice, I waved. The cat-like creature didn’t wave back, he turned around and trudged off. When a cat moves though, you know it’s a cat, because they glide. This thing didn’t, and that’s when I realised I’d seen my first possum.
At the time I hadn’t lived in Australia very long and what I didn’t realise was that the possum had lived in my house longer than I had. Whereabouts he lived, I didn’t know; maybe in the loft, it was a possibility.
Or perhaps he lived in a tree, but he certainly regarded my house as his home, possums are very territorial. I would hear strange beastie sounds during the night, very strange sounds indeed.
I can assure you this video DID NOT appear in the magazine, but I can re-publish it here..
Not limited to but including what sounded like some kind of animal being dragged through the bushes along with a deep and repetitive teeth chattering growl. Turns out it’s the noise my possum made to warn other possums to stay off of his patch.
Since then I’ve seen possums in my back garden, in friends’ back gardens, in trees while camping and I have even seen them in the city. On holiday once, I had one join me on my balcony and a few weeks ago one came into a restaurant where I was eating; he is a regular visitor apparently.
Click on these images below to be taken to the original posts about them: