Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.

by BobinOz on February 26, 2010

in Australia's Bad Things

I had an email from a reader called Dottianne the other day, and she has rightly pointed out that the pictures of the possums over at my post called Strange Australian Back Garden Beastie Sound Explained are not, how can I break this to you, possums.

They are both “opossums”. Click the link above, check them out and then come back here and I’ll explain all.

What’s with the ‘O’?

Here’s the big surprise, well, for me anyway. The American possums are actually called opossums, scientific name, Didelphimorphia. But for some reason, they are more commonly referred to as possums, just like our native Australian species.

But our Australian possums are (scientific name) Phalangeridae. Both are marsupials, but that’s about it. Other than that, they are not really related at all. But I wasn’t the only one who was fooled by all this; there are still plenty of websites out there that claim possums and opossums are the same. They are not.

It seems that all the confusion was started by Capt Cook’s botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, who named the Australian animal a possum because it “looked like” the American opossum. Luckily, he didn’t travel north, otherwise our crocodiles would be called alligators.

The big difference though, for me, and you will not find this information in too many encyclopaedias or wildlife books, is that the American possum has pointy teeth and looks scary and the Australian possum is a real cutie. First, check out the two opossums on my previous post if you haven’t already, see above.

Now checkout my Australian Possum Parade, assembled following a raid over at flickr……

 
possum by andyroo64 Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.Image above courtesy of andyroo64
 
possum by Bedwetting in Australia Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.Image above courtesy of Bedwetting in Australia
 
possum by ekai Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.Image above courtesy of ekai
 
possum by johnvw Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.Image above courtesy of johnvw
 
possum by photolaps Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.Image above courtesy of photolaps\
 
possum by small Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.Image above courtesy of small
 
possum by wiccked Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.Image above courtesy of wiccked
 
possum by wollombi Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.Image above courtesy of wollombi
 

I still have my possum living somewhere in the garden. I hear him a lot, I see his pooh pooh a lot, but I very rarely see him. He is very reclusive. I’ve only ever seen him once and you can read about that experience in the same blog post that has the pictures of the American opossums.

Shame, I’d have liked to get to know him.

Oh, and just in case you didn’t check it out, here’s an American opossum…

24359966 819581de1c o 1024x817 Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.

Not So Cute

Image Courtesy of AndrewKantor

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{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

COLIN N BURNS July 31, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Well, the Aussie Phalangeridae Nocturnal are a feature in backyards too. I don’t mind them around nor the sound they make deep into the night even when I’m halfway into a gap betwixt wanting to sleep and the verge of snoozing. Why? because I’m deaf!. But what bothers me about them is that they abandoned their fallen long dead but now last advanced stage of decaying tree home and instead choose to squat (without paying rent) into the space between the roof and ceiling of my house!. And they seem to make a racket every night there like ‘hardnosed drunken idiots at the bar come pub closing hours’, or were like having a ‘rowdy convention in the name of war against their worst enemy the house cat!’.

Oh yeah!, I now hear them up there every night now!. And wot’s more, they p*ss wood-carcenogenic urine everywhere up there, gradually causing the ceiling wood to rot over time before a piece of it collapsed and landed on the top edge of my soup bowl, literally flipping the hot soup all over my face at the table!. As l looked up in excruciating pain through one slightly closed eye I saw two of the blighters sneering down – with a kooky expression – at me as if they’re uttering a “tee hee heh heh!” attitude with their bulbous scary-looking illuminous eyes through that smelly p*ss stinking dark abyss of a hole where that piece of rotted wood broke off. What were they thinking? a “tee-hee heh heh”?.
Eh?, sorry possums, but l’m not a cat. Since ya all won’t pay up damages anyway l’m gonna catch ya all and relocate ya all somewhere fifty miles away to Woop Woop behind the Black Stump, and then say to ya all ” Now, ya all listen up, my house is’nt a tree, right?, …..tah tah!.”
Don’t get me wrong, l love wildlife, you don’t blame wildlife, it was Land Developers and Woodgetters who took – and still taking away – their natural beloved habitats in the first place!.

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BobinOz August 3, 2010 at 12:17 am

Hi Colin

I can’t help thinking you’ve got the rough end of the stick here. You appear to have bogan possum’s around your way but I feel a duty to explain to my good readers that you can’t tarnish all possums with the same brush.

Many of the possums around our way don’t drink to excess at all and if they do, they seem to make their way home in a quiet and orderly fashion. It’s very rare that we hear them at all and it’s been a long time since I heard those strange beastie sounds in the night.

I got to agree with you on one thing though, they do seem to poo and pee wherever they are caught short. They could at least go behind a tree or if they are living in your house, make their way to the toilet like the rest of us.

Before considering relocating them to Woop Woop, have you tried to find out why they behave the way they do? Perhaps there is an underlying cause to their unruly behaviour.

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Col B. (Colin Burns) August 5, 2010 at 12:39 am

Well, I suspect a neighbor’s cat with mangly scars all over its head and part of it’s ear looked bitten or torn off. I see the cat something like every two or three days in my yard and a few times going into the space going between the roof and ceiling of my abode but when l go nite- nite to sleep l actually hear a racket coming from said space. and the possibility in the Possums’s behaviour might be stemming from that, (fight hungry) Cat?.
I’ve seen Cats fight Possums before but neither wins a fight, and occurs only at night through to dark early morn’.
Both end up with scarred heads. A fight lasts sporadically within half an hour before the Cat had enough, but it is the Cat who would return again and again to have more spars with the powerful Possums. I know that cats like to invade on any other animals’s homes as long as it is’nt an animal (or rival) no bigger than its size. The possums always hold their territory but Cats are invaders (and hunters).
Bob, not many people rarely see and hear Possums
around. I agree.
I’ve seen around 11 of them over the course of my 13 years in far north coast NSW and at least five in my ten years in the mountains of Victoria and all in the wilds. I often stroll on moonlit nights into the forests, not to mention in urban areas with streetside trees. And presently in the space between the roof and the ceiling of my house. I tell you that the present ones in my roof are frequent noise makers so a Cat invasion may be the cause to their behaviour.
Anyway, another behaviour pattern in Possums is one of their natural but normal instincts, like scraping their tails (although l don’t hear that) on the ground which occurs when two male Possums eyeball each other off, be it territorial rights(?) or competition in the presence of a female.
Last time l saw a possum was a few months ago when one got trapped in my glass door loungeroom woodheater full of cold ashes (no fire or burning embers because it was in the middle of summer). Possum entered there via fluepipe in the chimney. I opened the glass heater door so it could walk out of the open house doors but it stubbornly would not leave the woodheater for half an hour. I put on heavy duty gloves and firmly got a hold on him/her and him/her did not struggle anymore once him/her is in my clasp. I took him/ her outside and released him/her. That one had a distinct scar on its snout and is one of the Possums in my roof.
You could say the woodheater drama is an unusual occurrence let alone a human actually handled one. hmm… that IS rare. Well l thought nothing of it. Given I’m a nature loving man l’ve seen plenty of other wildlifes in the bush scutter off from ‘Bush Boogeyman’ me anyway!.

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BobinOz August 6, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Well, I knew possums were very territorial and would defend their patch, but I didn’t think cats would bother to try and take them on. I thought that mice and birds were more of their kind of thing. I am also surprised that the possum doesn’t win hands down, but then I suppose that depends on the cat and the possum involved.

I have now seen four possums since I moved here to Australia, which was about three years ago. Two of them were in two different friends back gardens after dark while we were outside drinking. Then I saw one when we went camping and of course, there was the possum that pressed his nose against my front room window whilst I was watching TV.

Sounds to me as though possums are possibly as curious as cats, which is probably why you had one end up inside your stove.

As for that tail scraping, I heard something like that and posted a video about it. Christine commented and said it is the sound of a possums growl, but maybe it was a dragging tail. Sounded more like a dragging sound to me than a growl. Have a listen if you get a chance, see what you think……

Strange beastie sound in my back garden

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Chris July 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm

American opossums aren’t scary at all! Sure they have teeth a bit sharper than cats… but I have one sleepin’ on my belly right now! Her name’s cuddles, she’s hypoallergenic, and the worst part about her is she REFUSES to stop tickling my belly button with her nose. It’s quite horrible.

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BobinOz July 22, 2011 at 9:40 pm

She sure sounds friendly enough, have you been feeding her? I haven’t managed to get too near any of ours, maybe I look scary!

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vanessa April 10, 2012 at 4:55 am

bull! i think that my American possum is way cuter! ok, he’s got a few scraggly-looking teeth, but he’s much fuzzier :P

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BobinOz April 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm

As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder :-)

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Marisano April 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Hmm. I think your crocs would have been called “Ligators” (Ausigators?) had Joseph Banks traveled north.

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BobinOz April 15, 2012 at 12:52 am

Lucky he didn’t then, I prefer crocs :-)

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Marisano April 15, 2012 at 3:12 am

Yep. See what happens when you let botanists name animals?

But wait, I think I’ve got it: Ozigators! How beautifully terrible!

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BobinOz April 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm

No, wouldn’t work in Australia. The Australians like is to put an “O” at the end of the word, not the beginning.

See An Australian Story.

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Frank July 2, 2012 at 11:33 am

I live in a leafy part of Sydney where I’ve seen many generations of Brushtail and Ringtail possums flourish over the years. I’ve also owned a number of cats, but never has there been any sort of problem between the two. I suspect that cats may attempt to take baby Ringtail possums if hungry enough (Ringtails are much smaller than the Brushtails, for those who don’t know) but in my experience they are never silly enough to mess with Brushtails. I’ve watched the cats come face to face with Brushtails in the backyard numerous times, with never a hint of aggression either way. They just look at each other for a moment before continuing their business. As such, I’m very skeptical of those people who say they’ve seen cats and possums fight.

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BobinOz July 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm

That surprises me a little, I would have imagined a possum would have had a go at a cat in its territory. But I’ve never seen a cat and a possum face-off, it’s good to hear they are prepared to ignore each other.

I’ve got a couple of cats here and I know I’ve got a possum around somewhere, there’s never been any trouble. Thanks Frank!

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Lorraine August 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm

We are currently renting a house in the outskirts of Townsville, we have 2 or 3 possums living in our celing, they thunder across the roof at nite and lately the pee has come down the side of the inside of the wall. there are 2 or three ways they are getting in between the roof and celing and apparently part of the celing did colapse a couple of years ago. we would like to move them on but dont know if it is up to the landlord or us to do it. It is a very old house and to get on the roof maybe a bit of a problem. If there is anyone out there that can shed some light on our little problems let me know, we dont want to end up with possums on our bed when the foof caves in. thank you Lorraine at the above email

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BobinOz August 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I would have thought it is the responsibility of your landlord to pay the cost of dealing with your possum problem. Possum removal is a bit of a skill as they are very territorial and hate been relocated. But it should not be your problem, I’d speak to your landlord. What ever solution you go for, blocking those entry points is important otherwise your possums, or different possums will be back.

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Michael August 12, 2012 at 6:03 am

There is a Opossum in my backyard constantly (American). It is single handedly the scariest and ugliest looking thing I have ever seen. My dog goes crazy barking at it, often chasing it around the yard. I dare not touch my dog for a solid few hours in fear that it touched that ugly thing. The grossest part is its long and big rat like tail.

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BobinOz August 13, 2012 at 1:01 am

Well there you go. Thank you for that confirmation Michael, sounds to me as though you are backing up my theory that American opossums are just not cute.

Yours sounds downright scary!

If you can snap a picture of it, I’ll stick it on this post, maybe we can have an ugliest opossum contest?

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BG September 13, 2012 at 12:07 am

Joseph Banks and Captain James Cook certainly made it as far North as Cooktown Australia (he just HAD to go there) and the site of the Town of 1770. They went to 1770 in 1770 – surprise! They also visted the present site of Keppel Sands, North of Rockhampton, where they explored Pumpkin Creek, the home of allegedly large alleged crocodiles. We do not know who made the allegations?

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BobinOz September 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Well it wasn’t me :-)

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Xm September 24, 2012 at 2:52 am

My dog Red has killed 2 opossums that got into his pin he sleeps in at night. This morning i was letting him out and found a baby one that he killed sometime in the night. It was kind of cute so i dug a hole and buried it :)

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BobinOz September 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Well that was very kind of you.

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kelf December 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm

north american opossums aren’t really scary in real life–your picture is of a terrified little baby –seriously that’s just kid–they get much bigger but the adults rarely hiss at humans (i’ve only seen injured or trapped adults hiss at humans), and even the babies, rarely are afraid enough to hiss at humans..they just scurry away from you. as babies and adolescents, i would say they are very ugly-cute, but once they are full grown they are just ugly and mostly blind–but they eat roaches which i view kindly given the giant palmetto bugs that plague the southern portion of this continent. there’s a big full grown one outside on my porch right now eating cat food actually and a baby one just fled–the youngsters are’t afraid of the adults though, they’ll fight for food regardless of how much smaller they are–pretty admirable in my book–tough little blokes. the nice thing about opossums is that their body temperature is too low to harbor rabies…so there’s that, plus the roaches-eating aspect to be thankful for–personally, it’s just hard for me as one opposable thumbed individual not to feel a wee bit of kinship with one of the only other oppossble thumbed species on the face of the planet, not matter how ugly–i guess that’s one reason i’m so fond of raccoons, they have hands–and are wicked smart…the wild life that is making it here is the smart kind–the raccoons, the coyotes, the bob cats, the squirrels, the blue jays, and the turkeys (smart but mean-ass mofos turkeys are–you ever see a full grown wild male turkey, run the other direction–it’s not that odd, they terrorize the city streets of boston…ben franklin is laughing in his grave for sure about that)…we’ve created a world where “natural selection” is strongly favoring the smart…the next 1000 years should be interesting…anywo, your possums are cute–but kinda look like all the other animals in australia, no offense, just there’s a certain “look” to your fauna that seems absent elsewhere… oh by the way, there’s a funny thread on reddit where an aussie posted a picture of a cat with an aussie possum baby clinging to its back and a 1000 americans saying it was squirrel! and mayhem erupting since we don’t actually call our opossums opossums in real life, but possums…very funny thread…cheers!

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BobinOz December 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Well I never knew that possums (and opossums) have opposable thumbs or that they eat cockroaches. So they get a double thumbs up from me on that score.

I’m glad our possums are cute, I prefer that to ugly, but I can assure you not all of our animals have that kind of look, and we have one bird that makes a turkey look like a pussycat. I’m glad you reminded me, I’ll write a post about it on Friday.

Cheers!

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Rod December 28, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Australian brushtail possums can make a real mess of a cat, if the latter is silly enough to press the point. Sure, Aussie possums are cuter than their American cousins, but they are also very well armed with claws that make a cat’s look like toothpicks and teeth that can bite off a human fingertip.

This is worth bearing in mind if you make friends with one yourself. Remember that they are wild animals and if they get frightened for some reason they can do some real damage. Even feeding them by hand can lead to some nasty “misunderstandings”. A couple of my relatives still bear scars from hand-feeding possums bits of banana, when the possums concerned got a bit confused about where the banana ended and the feeding finger began!

I love possums, but be careful when getting up close!

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Rod December 28, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Just to re-iterate the previous point, here is a picture of a brushtail possum skull. Those front lower teeth are 2 cm long! http://museumvictoria.com.au/bioinformatics/mammals/images/vlpcside.htm

The image at http://cdn1.arkive.org/media/6F/6F853324-7BBD-46EE-B975-D52113B09E92/Presentation.Large/Common-brushtail-possum-on-tree-trunk.jpg gives a good idea of their claws. Great for climbing trees or doing serious damage to a cat or dog or you if you aren’t careful.

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BobinOz January 2, 2013 at 8:57 pm

A worthwhile reminder Rod, they do look cute but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause some damage if they feel they need to. Same goes for koalas, they’re as cute as anything but with claws that can rip you apart. Not called wildlife for nothing.

Thanks for pointing this out.

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Eggly Bagelface May 9, 2013 at 2:32 am

North American opossums aren’t really all that ugly -only when they hiss. Nor are they particularly dangerous or much of a pest. When they have their mouth closed, they’re actually quite cute. Opossum, by the way, is an Algonquin (the indigenous Native American language group of the Algonquin Peoples of the Great Lakes area, the Northeastern United States and Maritime Canada) word for “white beast” or “white dog”. Also, the term “playing possum” comes from opossums faking dead as a defense mechanism.

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BobinOz May 11, 2013 at 12:24 am

In fairness, I think our possums can probably look a bit scary when they are angry, they certainly makes some scary noises when they start getting all territorial.

I do agree with you though Eggly Bagelface, opossums do look better when their mouths are closed and I think the particular photo I’ve used for an American opossum in this post has been unfair to the whole American opossum population. The opossum in my picture is clearly both angry and has an open mouth.

To all American opossums, I apologise :-)

Cheers

Bob

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Cheryl July 3, 2013 at 6:07 am

Oh my goodness! I thought they were one in the same. I thought possum was just a lazy way of saying the scientific name opossum. Wrong on all counts. Here in the American South we eat possums. So the real question is do they taste the same :)

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BobinOz July 3, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Ah, well that’s a tough one. What do your opossums taste like?

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danny November 14, 2013 at 1:11 am

hi.
well i found your page very interesting im a languages student and i live in mexico where the possums are pretty uglies xD and i was confused because in fact the ones that appeared in ice age are the ones that are like american ones and i was wondering about the other species like timon the one of lion king so its a very great help thank

pd amazing website=)
greetings from puerto aventuras mexico=)

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BobinOz November 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I don’t remember seeing possums in either film, but I’m sure they were there :-) so I have no idea what kind of possum was in the Lion King, anybody know?

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chris ester March 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Well, my Aussie friend…. as an American who happens to think that our opossums are gosh darn cute… I am wondering what the photographer did to tick off that particular cutie. Opossums are omnivores in the broadest sense and LOVE a good bit of well rotted carrion, so if they happen to take a nip, the bite will be pretty dirty and need a big dose of antibiotics.

They also have a sweet tooth. My son worked at a wildlife shelter in the southeast U.S. and how he found out about their bite being so filthy is that the owner/director of the shelter was accidentally nipped while feeding one little girl grapes. Alas, our opossums have very bad eyesight and are not very smart. But they aren’t as nasty as that photo would have a person believe! They are good verminators though. A group moved in under my parents’ home one winter and there were absolutely no mice, rats or snakes in the house the entire year that they roomed under the house. Also, they can’t carry rabies, so the bite is dirty, but doesn’t necessitate rabies treatment!

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BobinOz March 10, 2014 at 11:28 pm

I must admit that is one scary looking opossum in the picture and it is very pleasing to hear that they do not all look like that. Anything that gets rid of rats and mice without carrying rabies has got to be a good thing as well, so I think we can safely say that both your opossums and our possums are good things.

Now, maybe I just need to find a cute photograph of one of your opossums…

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margo March 12, 2014 at 9:31 am

I have had a mother and baby possum living in my car garage in a cardboard storage box in the rafters for well over 3 years, they do not poop or pee anywhere in the garage or on anything, and they don’t damage anything by chewing stuff , so maybe the house ceiling pee is a male territory marking thing.
I live in Southern Queensland.

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BobinOz March 13, 2014 at 1:13 am

Yes, it’s almost certainly a bloke thing. Us human geezers mark our territory by leaving the toilet seat up, same thing :-)

Your possums obviously go to the girlie room which they have established somewhere outside of your garage. Keep them around, they will take care of the rats and snakes as chris ester has said above.

Cheers, Bob

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teresa May 2, 2014 at 7:14 am

The photo of the american possum you showed, is one that was cornered…they are not mean and they won’t bother anyone if you leave them alone. Don’t be one sided

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BobinOz May 2, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Teresa, if you click on the link at the top of this page to the strange beastie sounds article, you’ll see that I actually originally thought the scary possum was Australian, proof if ever anyone needs it but this is nothing to do with being one-sided.

I didn’t know it was an American possum (or opossum) until somebody pointed it out.

Me, one-sided, the very idea….

:-)

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Chris May 8, 2014 at 6:07 pm

American opossums can be ridiculously cute:
http://youtu.be/RbKK_HWS3BQ?t=20s
(if you don’t like links, you can youtube search for “the passion of the cuddles” … like the movie with Jesus… except with a sleepy opossum instead of a guy getting tortured)

Not saying the australian ones aren’t cute. I’ve just always been told you don’t want to cuddle anything from down there. Because chances are, it’s venomous. And has deadly claws. Possibly both. :)

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BobinOz May 8, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Yes, that opossum was kind of cute, but such a long nose. Still not as cute as ours though :-)

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Nurrungar June 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Living with possums is a give and take arrangement. Give them respect but take away any opportunity to live in an upstairs appartment. Moving possums is pretty impractical as they like boomerangs do come back and back and back. If they are in your ceiling you should treat them as you would any teenager. Wait till they have gone down the pub then shut the doors and change the locks. Killing them is very illegal and here in Canberra there is a legal limit on how far away you can transport them so you just need to accept that they were here first and do have a form of “native title”. They can be very cute and are very happy to receive a hand-out or to pinch the cat’s biscuits. Our current co-owner is very modest in his/her demands, knocking on the family room window every 3-4 days and waiting patiently for an apple to be cut up or a bowl of sultanas to be prepared. The outstretched hands that greet the arrival of a snack are very appealing. Treasure your closest neighbours, they will repay in ‘cute’.

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BobinOz June 19, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Ha ha, I never knew, but now I do. How to treat teenagers “Wait till they have gone down the pub then shut the doors and change the locks.”

I will make notes, my daughter is only 10 at the moment, but the time will come :-)

But yes, you are right, possums are hugely territorial and there are strict laws, same here in Queensland. Mate a of mine called a possum catcher round because he had a possum in his loft, but the guy said he was only allowed to remove it and take it 200 metres away or something. Pointless!

So you are right, wait till the possum leaves and then block all the holes up, but it’s much better to let them stay and make friends with them. They are harmless and cute.

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Nurrungar June 22, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Nurrungar again.
Our possum was back again last night but this a second smaller one turned up too. Knowing possum territoriality I was expecting the larger one to invoke to Defence of the Realm Act but that didn’t happen, only a bit of muttering and a refusal to permit p2 into the sunroom. A ledge on a 2×4 between a sheet of shade plastic roofing and a shade cloth on the back verandah. Came the morning and p1 is firmly in possession of the sunroom and p2 is nowhere in sight. Seems possums work to the same rules as I do on teenagers. Now with the setting sun I have a beautiful silhouette of p1 flat on back, sun baking with all four legs sticking up in the air. I have now come to the conclusion that p2 is last years kit who can’t yet be persuaded to leave home territory.

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BobinOz June 22, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Yes, sounds like p2 has been told to clear off and find his own territory. That’s the way it is with possums, and by the sound of it, you with teenagers :-)

Never knew possums liked sun baking either, I thought they only came out at night.

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Nurrungar June 26, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Well big troubles over the past couple of days. P1 hasn’t shown up lately but p2 was in the sun room most of Tuesday but came down in full daylight to see if there was any food going. This was unusual enough to get me to give her (just guessing) a good looking over. The missing brush tail was fairly obvious, movement was very poor with her left hind leg unable to support her and a puncture wound in her left thigh. An invalide meal of carrot, apple and sultanas was left out but again no nocturnal excursions but came down in daylight. I consulted our local wild-life ranger and he has agreed to our monitoring and feeding for a couple of before he comes to pick her up either to go to the RSPCA or to be euthanized. If the vet at the RSPCA clears her she can be returned to.our verandah. Wish her luck.

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BobinOz June 26, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Sounds to me as though P1 has been ousted or maybe even worse. P2 didn’t come off too good either, by sounds. This territorial lark isn’t all it’s made out to be, as the one legged crocodile once said.

I do wish P2 well, hope she (just guessing as well) survives, and it would be nice to think that when she goes to the RSPCA, that maybe P1 might show up again?

It would be horrible to be left with no P’s at all. Please do let us know how it goes.

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Nurrungar June 27, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Well p2 ate yesterday afternoon then retired to.the sunroom to rest up. I talked to a wildlife ranger from the dept of weeds and seeds and they asked me to keep an eye on.p2 for another day and callback if the condition deteriorated. P1 also came back in.com the evening and did what any sick room visitor would do (ate the patient’s grapes) sultanas. The ranger came after lunch and after checking p2 said he would prefer not to take her to the RSPCA as the euthanasia risk was quite high but he felt that given a weeks food and shelter recovery was likely. So there we have it, regular meals and sympathetic nursing will have p2 back on all 3 legs in no time.

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BobinOz June 29, 2014 at 12:42 am

So P2 and P1 are both still around? Looks like you will need to be providing double food and also play the role of peacemaker. Strange that the ranger thinks P2 is better off without the help of the RSPCA, he’s almost implying that they are trigger-happy with euthanasia.

Looks like you will have to pull them through on your own, hope you can.

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isa June 28, 2014 at 4:08 am

live in melbourne and we have cutie possums in the backyard. at first i saw one then two but the second one is fuller and hardly has a tail at all and thats the one that became a bit obsessed with one of my cats and now after it is used hearing us and my cats at night it came nose to nose with my cat and even sniffed my hand. i started leaving food out like pieces form carrots lettuce tomato cucumber apple and so on and it even takes it out of my hand now but i was wondering why it keeps trying to eat my fingers even so i give it delicious food which it eats right away. this morning around 3am as i went outside with my cat for our walk it was already on the fence eating what i left out last night and i gave it some more but it bit my thumb. and 45min later as we come back it is still there so i ask it to wait for me while i ran inside getting an apple and i cut it in small pieces and feed it. so damn cute. it kept trying to get closer to my face. it feels securer on the fence. it stopped eating the apple and kept trying to bite my fingers. i would like to know why. it does not seem like it is scared of me and it keeps taking food directly out of my hand yet it wants to keep taking a bite out of my fingers and sniff my face. anyone know why?

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Nurrungar June 28, 2014 at 10:58 am

As for eating fingers, remember that they are omnivorous and a finger could be a fine fat wichetty grub. On the subject of feeding, please refrain from bread. It sticks to their teeth and promotes caries. I really can’t imagine it as any good for humans either if it is the white kind that comes from the supermarkets. Humans are best with a good dark rye, added to which rye actually tastes of something. Still not for possums and ducks, at least until one of them opens a local bakery. For those curious about p2, he/she is feeding well and coping. We will have to start tapering off the food soon because we are going away for two weeks in 10days time.

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Nurrungar June 29, 2014 at 6:41 pm

P1 was round again last night and as it was such a foul night they both shared the accommodation. I know that is odd but it happened. By morning she had left and again in daylight p2 came down for lunch. Spent the afternoon on the decking and went back to the appartment just after sunset.

Bob, I apologise for kind of hijacking your blog. Do you want me to quit these postings ?

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BobinOz June 30, 2014 at 6:19 pm

A possum showing compassion? Good to hear that can happen in possum world.

Don’t worry about hijacking, this page is all about possums and it’s good to hear possum stories. For people who are not used to having possums around, it’s also good to hear from someone who is happy to let possums co-share and also give them a little bit of food.

Cheers, Bob

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John Hurt July 2, 2014 at 10:04 am

For the poor sap who had the opossum issues. You need to save the proper word for MY peoples word for “you all” which is defined by Webster as a southern colloquium of you all. Its “y’all ” with an apostrophe. Trust me, it was one of my first words and, hopefully one of my last.

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BobinOz July 3, 2014 at 1:52 pm

I have no idea what you are referring to John.

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Nurrungar July 2, 2014 at 5:59 pm

I think it may be time to finish up the sag of p1 and p2. P2 seems to well on the road to recovery. This evening he was quite prepared to tip over his bowl after finishing off the sultanas dumping the raw carrots on the deck. He has adopted the old adage of “Life is uncertain, so eat dessert first.” They are now firmly back on the gourmet track and are prepared dine around the town and accept the possibility that a particular establishment will be closed on occasion. Only further posts if things go off ttack.

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Hilary July 2, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Hi Nurrungar

Good to hear something positive about those furry monsters and really pleased P2 has now recovered enough to go food hunting herself. Great outcome after all that nursing. Have to say my experience has been somewhat different! Was flat-sitting recently in Sydney eastern suburbs and my host had warned me that she thought there was a possum in the roof space. Too true – I spent a month being woken in the early hours just about every night by loud banging and a noise that sounded like a branch being dragged across the ceiling, well more like a tree. Had also noticed rather unpleasant looking yellow stains in two corners of the ceiling which my host had assured me was just ‘damp coming in’. Turns out this was the roof resident peeing and it was soaking through the plasterboard, yuk. Anyway when the pest removal people came eventually to ‘persuade’ the resident to move out they found there were two pesky possums living there, happy as Larry in their comfy roof space. So although they are lovely, cute animals in the wild they are definitely not when living in your roof!

Reminded me of squirrels in the UK. Get those in your roof space and it’s a major problem. By the way, possum fibre is fabulously soft to spin into yarn though expensive and not easily obtainable in UK. Most comes from NZ I think as possums are not protected there and they can export the fibre legally.

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BobinOz July 3, 2014 at 2:03 pm

What are you suggesting Hillary? Possum pullovers? How could you? :-)

Glad P2 is on the mend as well Nurrungar, thanks for the update.

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Nurrungar July 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm

It’s nice to know that the Eastern Suburbs squatters have been evicted but I do hope that the removal crew secured the roof cavity because as I have said earlier they are homers. They are also prolific piddlers, nothing is worse than having dinner interrupted by the arrival at the dinner table of a urine soaked ceiling panel possibly accompanied by the perpetrator. Hence my “eat dessert first” admonition.

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Hilary July 3, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Haha, love it! Don’t think I will ever forget the image of possum-piddled panels dangling over the pavlova. From now on I’ll be glancing up nervously at those ceilings before tucking in…

Yes the removal crew did a good job with metal to cover said hole in corner of roof eaves. However, that of course leaves another three corners to sharpen their teeth on!

Apologies to you and Bob for my insensitivity in mentioning possum pullovers, oops. Most of what I spin doesn’t involve any fatalities – sheep’s fleece, alpaca, soya bean fibre, recycled plastic bottles etc But then there’s silk. And the millions of silk worms tucked up snugly in their cocoons… but luckily we won’t need to pursue that as this is a possum-post.

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BobinOz July 4, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Ah, yes, that’s okay; no possums were harmed in the making of this pullover :-)

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Nurrungar July 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Possums are fine in their place, outside. But not in ceilings and certainly not in New Zealand. I can appreciate their attitude to the imported possum.

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Dana July 9, 2014 at 3:50 am

I may just be trained to hate opossums, but I happen to think they are some of the ugliest, most disgusting creatures ever. They happen into our barn every so often, which is seriously bad news bears, because their urine can cause a degeneration of the brain in horses if ingested. Wouldn’t be an issue except they tend to pee on hay, which the horses eat. Considering I like my horses with all their brain tissue in tact, I don’t like opossums at all. Plus, as previously stated, they have crazy gross tails like giant rats. They’re also ridiculously hard to kill in comparison to, say, a raccoon or a skunk, which we also get on occasion.

I could be incorrect but I’ve also been told that while they are immune to rabies, they can, in fact, carry it, which just makes me dislike them more.

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BobinOz July 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm

Well, if what you say is true then I’m pretty sure that these things are major differences between opossums from the USA and possums in Australia. I have never heard of possums urine being dangerous to horses brains and if it was I’m sure I would have heard about it; Australia is a big horsey nation.

So, the question is, where did you get this information from? Can you point us to a resource?

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fortune faychild August 20, 2014 at 11:44 pm

City slicker opossums in San Diego, we have plenty in the yard. They’ve been so noisy lately at night and knocking things down breaking them on the porch, i got a humane trap and relocated 4 of them. The last straw was seeing a half eaten tomato in the garden. Yes the american ones do transmit a deadly disease to horses, don’t know if aussie ones do also? I was intending to submit photos of my little varmint visitors – not as cute as aussie ones but i can;t find a way to attach them.

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BobinOz August 21, 2014 at 9:31 pm

No, we have fruit bats spreading deadly disease through horses, I think possums are okay. If yours are like ours, relocating them won’t work too good, they just come straight on back like homing pigeons.

I’ve got your pictures, thanks, as soon as I get a chance I’ll attach them here. I’ll be back, Bob

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BobinOz August 24, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Told you I’d be back, here are your pictures fortune…

I hate to say this fortune, not really sure how to put it, but your opossum kind of looks like, well, a big rat. That sort of takes the edge off of cute for me. :-)

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Jill September 1, 2014 at 4:37 am

I have relocated many Opossum in Jersey by picking them up by the tail. Yes, they open their mouth and show you their teeth and hiss because they’re scared. These beautiful animals don’t attach kids or your pets… but those teeth will hurt an animal biting it… No one should feel the need to kill it with a shovel or gun… Simply call your area’s animal control or wild life center and get some tips. There are humane traps. I am also told the skunks and opossum have relocated themselves out from under sheds and porches if a dog marks the area so If you don’t have one , you might try borrowing one. Animal shelters foster pets when over crowded. I’ve also been told that human pee marking areas you don’t want these critters also gives them the feeling that this is anothers territory and unsafe for them. God bless all living creatures. We all should get along peacefully.

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BobinOz September 1, 2014 at 8:10 pm

I think we have discovered that Australian possums are little harder to relocate than your opossums, ours seem to be much more territorial. I wholly agree that nobody should even think about killing these things, they are harmless, cute, and deserve to be left to enjoy their lives.

Not sure about “God bless all living creatures” though; cockroaches? Mosquitoes? I don’t think so :-)

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Scotty August 21, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Lmao… Got a little biased there at the end. Not gonna lie though, American Opossums are nasty as mean looking. I used to live in Texas, so I’ve seen plenty lol

The Australian Possum reminds of a koala bear lol

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BobinOz August 21, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Well, that’s case closed then, I reckon. Australian possums are universally regarded as the cutest :-) Thanks Scotty for the confirmation.

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Nurrungar August 22, 2014 at 10:31 am

I was going to leave the dear departed in peace at leave you all with fond memories of p1 and p2 but as I have to return then I will tell you that while we were away in WA it was necessary that p2 was euthanized. The infection in his leg was too rampant. P1 has also moved on but now we have p3. We don’t know much about this one yet as it is much shyer than the previous tenants.

Now to the main reason for this post. We do not have “Koala Bears”. We don’t have any kind of bears. We have KOALAS full stop. Please keep your bears in the woods doing what they traditionally do. Koalas are a marsupial arboreal animal that is attractive in appearance and almost permanently stoned as a result of its eucalyptus diet. It is also noted for its incontinence. Witness the number of celebrities they have marked.

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BobinOz August 22, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Sad news about p2 and a little strange that p1 has wandered off, they are usually very territorial, as you no doubt know. I’m sure p3 will get braver in time.

I myself made the mistake on this website in the early days of referring to ‘Koala Bears’ which was silly of me really, because I knew they weren’t bears at all. I was very quickly chastise by a reader myself, so never again :-)

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fortune faychild August 23, 2014 at 11:59 pm

The Aussie ones are definitely cuter. Do they play possum, play dead like the american ones? Ours when cornered they fall over feigning death, become stiff, even manage to smell dead, even dogs don’t want anything to do with a smelly, stiff seemingly dead opossum. Relocating them works ok if you take them some distance to a place with available food . I take them over a busy bridge across the river to a marina area where there’s restaurants, fishing, plenty of trees and bushes and they put out food for neutered feral cats and ours love cat food. None have returned so far. They say ours are transients who move regularly but my yard seems to be a favorite place to have their litters and the whole batch seem to get along . We also get the occasional raccoon and skunk, opossums will try to come in the house every chance they get, who make it impossible to leave a door wide open even during the day without inviting a home invasion. hope the pictures get posted so you can see ours not hissing or showing teeth, they don’t seem to have much fear of humans even when trying to shoo them away. They just amble a short distance acting insulted.

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BobinOz August 24, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I can’t answer your “do they play dead” question, I’m afraid I haven’t had as much interaction with possums here as I would have liked. Maybe somebody else reading this can answer that question?

Your opossum’s behaviours do seem different from ours, ours are very territorial so tend to stay in the one place, they don’t often move on. No doubting ours are cuter though, as your provided pictures have proved.

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Nurrungar August 25, 2014 at 10:45 am

No they do not “play dead”, they sometime are dead and I am sure that New Zealanders wish they were all dead in New Zealand. The possums over there were introduce by ignorant halfwits just as some other idiots have tried taking foxes to Tasmania.

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BobinOz August 25, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Were they in any way related to the ignorant halfwits that introduced cane toads to Australia? :-) People need to learn not to mess with the ecosystem, that’s for sure.

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Nurrungar August 26, 2014 at 3:23 pm

No Bob, the cane toad was a studied decision, just not studied well enough. It was intended to provide a predator on the cane beetle that was damaging our sugar crops. Unfortunately the study was not long or cautious enough and the bloody things turned into a disaster. Foxes on the other hand were brought in because the jolly old poms wanted to recreate their traditional pastime of “the unspeakable in pursuit of the unbeatable” though why the idiots are trying to pollute Tasmania I’ll never understand. Once they get established in the Tarkine or along the south coast wilderness they will be impossible to remove. For those that havn’t been down there it is well worth a visit but just be very careful.

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BobinOz August 26, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Oh I’m fully aware of the history surrounding the cane toad and why it was imported, and in my view the fact that such an eco-changing decision was studied, but not well enough, still makes the people who made the decision halfwits.

I’m also aware that poms introduced rabbits as well (as foxes), for exactly the same reason, about a dozen of them I think. They obviously weren’t very good shots, rabbits are now another out-of-control pest in some states. For my money, that was simply an act of stupidity that wasn’t really thought through properly, after all, they pretty much only just arrived here by boat. That would have been early part of the 1800s, about the same time they brought the foxes over.

What did they know at that time?

On the other hand, the think tank that put a great deal of thought into importing the cane toad 100 years later, with much more knowledge of our wildlife and fauna, that does take the biscuit.

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