Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.

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 Image above courtesy of andyroo64
Another possumImage above courtesy of Bedwetting in Australia
ginger possumImage above courtesy of ekai
possum pictureImage above courtesy of johnvw
standing possumImage above courtesy of photolaps\
Another standing possumImage above courtesy of small
cute possumImage above courtesy of wiccked
wandering possumImage 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…

Not So Cute

Image Courtesy of AndrewKantor

Playing dead

Update March 2016

I’ve just been informed by Sam in the comments below that American opossums play dead when threatened. Sam wondered if Australian possums do the same? No, they don’t, they make a sound, you can listen to it on the following post:

Whose possums are the cutest?

Update April 2016

Just added a video post you may also like:

Visa Assessment Service
{ 282 comments… add one }
  • Kali Blaze April 3, 2016, 4:14 pm |

    If Banks had found your crocodiles, I think they’d still be crocs – do keep in mind, we have BOTH alligators and crocodiles in the Americas (actually, have both within the US). In fact, I believe we’re the only country that has both; we definitely have the only known place in the world where both have natural habitats in the same area (South Florida, if you’re curious).

    Not that I like either one – most reptiles give me the heebie-jeebies! (I was going to say they give me the willies, but it occurred to me that that has a slightly different meaning to you Aussies! I mean a creepy-crawly feeling, not, um, a certain portion of the male anatomy.)

    • BobinOz April 4, 2016, 5:14 pm |

      Yes, it does have a different meaning, you most definitely cannot say willies here in Australia.

      As for the alligator thing, when I originally wrote this post I was under the impression that you only had alligators in the US, but I do think somebody else somewhere in these comments did put me straight on that one as well. Didn’t know that the US was the only place in the world though that has both in natural habitats.

      Thanks for the info, Bob

      • Drew Snider April 4, 2016, 11:53 pm |

        Oh, great…there’s a popular cafe in Victoria Canada called “Willie’s” and now I can’t look at it in the same way.

        I digress (even before I started)…I, too, was under the impression that the US only had alligators. When I was in Florida a few years ago, I encountered what I thought was a croc (pointy nose, as opposed to the rounded nose ‘gators have), but when I showed pictures to my friends, one said “No, that’s an alligator. Crocodiles live in Africa – gators are in the US”. I believed him – he was, after all, a high school teacher.

        About the same cause for credibility, I suppose, as for the person who explained that the difference between possums and opossums was the latter’s tail is shaped like an “o”. (See elsewhere in this lengthening thread.)

        • BobinOz April 5, 2016, 8:45 pm |

          Well I think some of us have learnt a few new things with the recent comments here, some of it is interesting and some of it we probably don’t want to think about too much.


  • sam March 25, 2016, 2:23 pm |

    Awwww American opossums (tlacuaches) are very cute actually!!! you just happened to found a kind of scary picture LOL, I have seen them since I was a kid, they are wonderful creatures, they are cute to me at least HEHE.
    I read here that someone says they look like rats (maybe it was you, anyway…) the Aztec legend says that they were fluffly silver haired creatures with a wonderful tail, but in ancient times when men didn’t know how to produce fire yet, one day a thunderstorm lighted up in fire a few trees and the titans of the mountains took the fire and kept it as their precious treasure. Humans realized the titans didn’t wanted to share it, even though humans were freezing, and so there was a meeting among humans and animals to agree on how to take the fire away from the Titans, no one wanted to attempt a visit to them for fear until the opossum offered to go and get the fire. Everyone laughed since he was a small creature, what could he do? … well, he played a trick to the Titans and thanks to his ability and small size, took the fire torch they were keeping in his tail and ran away with it to give it to his brothers the other animals and humans. The opossum gave the torch to the humans and they spread the knowledge about fire with time, but he forever lost his beautiful fur and tail. So that is how the opossums saved the men and to remember the hero, they keep their rat-like tail through generations 😀

    • BobinOz March 28, 2016, 10:02 pm |

      Gosh, our possums may look cuter, but your opossums are definitely smarter. I’m sure our possums would never have thought to play a trick like that, well, obviously they didn’t, they still have their tails.

      It’s a great story Sam, thanks for sharing, maybe I should write a follow-up post comparing possums and opossums for brains this time, not looks 🙂

      • Sam March 28, 2016, 11:15 pm |

        Hehehe, that is the legend how I remember it from when I was little, I am glad you enjoyed it. I forgot to mention, the trick the opossum played to the titans is to play dead while they were awake and waited until night when they were sleep to steal the torch xD … do Australian possums also play dead? That would be interesting, the ones here do, well at least they look like they do but I believe the poor things actually faint under the stress. Here is a good little article about it: http://animals.mom.me/opossums-playing-dead-5274.html

        Well, have a good week!

        • BobinOz March 29, 2016, 6:59 pm |

          No, they don’t. If you see an Australian possum ‘playing dead’ it is, ahem, really dead. I’m glad you asked though, because it gave me the idea of adding a little update to the foot of the above post.

          You can find out what our possums do when they feel threatened.

  • Nurrungar June 7, 2015, 10:32 pm |

    I think you should remember that this is an island continent and has been so for a very long time. Most of our animals have analogues in other parts of the world but that is what Darwinism is about, certain ecological niches have to be filled. For grazers we have the macropods, aquatic mammals the platypus, top carnivorous predators have sadly been eliminated by 1936 leaving just man and the ground breakers such as pigs are the two species of wombat. Problem is the pigs are here too and have gone feral just like cats and horses.

    • BobinOz June 8, 2015, 8:21 pm |
      • BobinOz June 8, 2015, 8:24 pm |
        • liz bell August 15, 2015, 12:40 pm |

          OM I am a wildlife rescuer with Wildlife Victoria and I have a passion for all wildlife,, especially marsupials. Possums, especially ringtail possums, are sweet, motherly, darling them from things that respond well to humans and just want to co-exist. I rescue them from disaster weekly and each week I love their tenacity and strength and innocence even more. The are sweet and loving. If only everybody could see that. It’s not just exotic animals that need saving.,

          • BobinOz August 16, 2015, 7:16 pm |

            I agree with you Liz, possums are little beauties. Some people do say they can get aggressive, I’ve not noticed that in any of the possums I’ve come across. Keep up the good work you’re doing to help these wonderful animals.

          • Sam March 30, 2016, 1:24 am |

            Oh so true!!! You would love our opposums here in America, also misunderstood creatures :'(

            When I was a girl I would see them around in our backyard almost every day and nowadays is very difficult to spot one. People tend to think of them as disgusting creatures (because of their rat like tail) but they actually eat many plagues around here and they do not get rabies (or at least I have been told that). I wish I could post a picture of a pretty opossum family here so you would see :3

            • BobinOz March 30, 2016, 5:57 pm |

              I wish too 🙂

            • Kali Blaze April 3, 2016, 4:08 pm |

              Opossums do occasionally carry rabies, but it’s unusual. Their body temperature is lower than is the norm for mammals, so the virus isn’t able to reproduce as effectively, which lets their immune systems wipe out the infections most of the time.

              But it does happen now and again, so an opossum that displays unusual behavior, especially aggression, is something to be concerned about (and possibly get the shots, if your skin has been broken and you can’t catch the opossum to have its rabies status verified).

              • Sam April 3, 2016, 6:16 pm |

                Oh that is good to know! Thank you 😀

              • Nurrungar August 11, 2016, 9:58 pm |

                From the symptoms being described I am beginning to wonder if a presidential candidate has been bitten by some rabid creature.

            • Nurrungar August 11, 2016, 9:53 pm |

              I really don’t understand this bit about ‘eating plagues’.

              • BobinOz August 12, 2016, 9:16 pm |

                I don’t think an opossum could eat a whole plague 🙂 they could give rabies to a presidential candidate though. If that happens, I’m sure it will be in the news.

                Or maybe nobody would notice the difference?

  • Patrick June 4, 2015, 1:06 am |

    Poor American Opposum! There’s a family living next door in my a very unlikely urban habitat…The Bronx in New York City. The neighbor’s light motion-sensor trips when they come to feed on the copious bowls of cat food that she leaves out (Sure that you have “THOSE” types in Oz as well….cat people neighbors obsessed with feeding the ferals) Anyhoo, I digress…I love watching our possum (BTW No one here refers tro them as “opposum” except snarky know-it-all types). They are an misunderstood animal. They are an indigenous species that do not carry rabies, have no violent tendencies, despite their threatening sharp teeth, and sadly have one of the shortest life expectancies (2 years max) as they’re just not agressive creatures. Australian possums are just straight up adorable, but ours are sweeties with a bad-rap due to their intimidating appearance! I wouldn’t go so far as to attempt to make one a pet as some of your American followers have posted…but they’re pretty righteous!

    • BobinOz June 4, 2015, 8:57 pm |

      A rousing speech in defence of US possums Patrick, you are beginning to make me feel a little guilty for some of the things I’ve said about them.

      I’m sure they are very pleasant creatures and they cause nobody any harm. As you say, they probably get a bad press because of their appearance, but you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. So I am prepared to accept that your US possums or opossums of very nice creatures indeed.

      It’s just the ours are cuter 🙂

      • Drew Snider June 5, 2015, 1:24 am |

        Methinks you’ve been influenced — as I have been — by the Pogo comic strip, which ran from 1948 until 1972 or so (http://boingboing.net/2011/12/05/pogo-the-complete-daily-sunday-comic-strips-exclusive-preview.html). The lead character, Pogo, was an opossum — vernacularized to “possum”, of course — and he was, indeed, quite endearing. Mind you, so was his closest mate, Albert the Alligator, and his wannabe love interest, Hepzibah — a skunk.

        Do you have skunks in Australia, Bob? I didn’t think so, and I can tell you this: devoid though they are of slashing teeth and aggressive nature like their cousins, the ferrets, weasels and wolverines, NO ONE would try to introduce that species anywhere. Sad.

        • BobinOz June 7, 2015, 8:31 pm |

          It’s a no and a no Drew. No, I’ve not been influenced by Pogo, never seen that comic strip before in my life.

          And no, we do not get skunks in Australia and actually I’ve never seen one in my life and therefore obviously never smelt one. They don’t smell nice though, so I’ve heard, and it’s their downfall really. They can be as friendly as you like but no one’s going to want to cuddle them. 🙂

    • Laura November 16, 2015, 10:12 pm |

      By “those types” I hope you mean human beings that do not think that animals should suffer because human beings have allowed cats to escape and breed all over the world.
      Or do you mean “those types” because you think animals suffering from starvation is awesome and you want see them get thin and die. Better yet, on your porch so you can really watch their pain and hunger. (just so long as they don’t leave a mess)

    • Chris November 24, 2015, 10:08 am |

      Hey Patrick, I say “opossum” (in NYC where I live, but I am from Brazil) and I am not a snarky or know-it-all type, as accused. I have rescued and raised them (properly with opossum milk replacement and balanced diet to prevent diseases such as MBD, etc…), than soft-releasing into the wild… working from knowledge and from the heart. Don’t judge people just because of a vogal, at the end, we all “say tomato” differently.

      • Вася. Bill Hall January 13, 2018, 7:02 am |

        The o is reduced to a “shwa” in linguistic terminology. It sounds more like an UH sould in English. So, in the latest preferred pronunciation ( as opposed to the IPA, or International Phonetic Alphabet which only linguists know) .The latest is simplysimply ‘uh pOssum’ the O is upper case to show sressed syllable.

        So you are correct and are not putting on airs or being a ‘nerd.’ I am a linguist, specializing in Slavic linguistics, particularly Russian, which does not even have a WORD FOR SPELLING. It sounds like it is written with some ‘reductions’ BUT the STRESS can change the meaning of two words that are spelled the same “ya pee SHU” means “I write” “ya PEE shu” mean ‘I urinate.’
        So stress is phonemic. (can change meaning tho spelled the same.)
        Carry on! Вася.


        • BobinOz January 16, 2018, 10:17 pm |

          Yes, I will carry on, but I’m not sure if life will ever be the same for me again. I just can’t seem to stop myself from “shwaing”.


  • Drew Snider May 16, 2015, 10:51 am |

    “Cute” is definitely a subjective term, shaynuuhh … those little “rock people” in “Galaxy Quest” were cute, too …
    BTW, up here in Canada, they’re *just now* seeing “The Water Diviner” for the first time … so considering my wife, some friends and I spent New Year’s Eve picnicking on a bluff overlooking the Great Southern Ocean AND one of the locations used in the movie, *then* saw the flick in Sydney a couple of days later … we feel naturally superior to everyone else.
    (I nominate Russell for Best Use of Cricket Bat …)

  • shaynuuhh May 16, 2015, 9:36 am |

    Sorry bob in oz. American opossums are pretty dang cute if you ask me…!! ^_^


    • BobinOz May 18, 2015, 6:18 pm |

      That one’s not bad 🙂

  • danny allen February 21, 2015, 11:10 pm |

    I live in the state Indiana in the usa , we have opossums here . their tails are hairless , also Indiana is a bit too far north for them , so many have little more than nubs for ears because of frostbite in the winter . as vicious as they look in reality they are very timid unless they are cornered and even then its mostly show , as young boys my friends and I would catch them by the tail and once their feet were off the ground they were helpless

    • BobinOz February 22, 2015, 9:16 pm |

      Humans are the same, they’re pretty helpless if you dangle them by one leg 🙂

      • Drew Snider February 23, 2015, 2:46 am |

        By the way … a friend of mine told me that you can tell the difference between possums and opossums by the shape of the tail: opossums’ tails curl into a circle — an “O” possum, get it? We were staying at her place in SA and I didn’t feel like going into your most excellent explanation, so I simply nodded and said “uh-huh, uh-huh … oh, really? … fascinating!”

        • BobinOz February 23, 2015, 6:10 pm |

          If that’s true, this article could have been so much shorter 🙂

  • Nurrungar December 27, 2014, 10:27 pm |

    Well we seem to be without possums over the Christmas period but lets face it lousy weather puts off both man and possum. On the subject of possums raiding litter bins. Try staying overnight at Caves House at Jenolan. Step outside after dark and there are more furry panhandlers than you will find on Hollywood Blvd. If you don’t cooperate you get importunate little paws pulling at your trouser legs.

    • BobinOz December 29, 2014, 10:42 pm |

      That’s probably where all your possums have gone, Caves House at Jenolan. Even our little furry friends like to get away at Christmas 🙂

      • Drew Snider February 23, 2015, 2:39 am |

        I dunno … my friends in Taz have a near-daily routine of carting a possum out to Diamond Beach Park and letting it go and that continued over Christmas … so maybe that’s where your possums disappeared to. I hear they’re very resourceful and can not only read ferry schedules but access other people’s EFTPOS cards.

        • BobinOz February 23, 2015, 6:09 pm |

          Sounds like my wife.

  • Drew Snider December 20, 2014, 3:50 pm |

    Thanks for straightening that out. I’m currently staying with friends on Tasmania who are running a battle with possums (minus the ‘o’) in their backyard. I’d assumed that “possum” was a slang word for “opossum” and they were the same thing, but I saw a scientific-looking reference to “possums” and thought that was odd.

    Opossums are definitely not cute, no matter what kind of photo you find of them
    Some years ago, a rocket scientist on Vancouver Island, where I live, brought a pair of baby opossums to the Island
    They grew up apnd went forth and multiplied, and people quickly found out how un-cute they are. They started preying on other animals and became a nuisance in spades. Finally, the genius was able to round them up and relocate them to a zoo or something. A lesson for us all.

    • BobinOz December 22, 2014, 7:50 pm |

      My pleasure Drew.

      Well I’m glad that genius was able to round them all up, we weren’t so lucky with cane toads, rabbits, camels, feral pigs and so many other creatures who came over on boats brought here by people who thought it was a good idea.

      By and large, it’s not a good idea to mess with the ecosystem, although we really do love the African dung beetle here in Australia.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Casey November 16, 2014, 4:29 am |

    We have both crocodiles and alligators in the U.S. so I think your crocs would have been safe.

    • BobinOz November 16, 2014, 9:54 pm |

      Yes, after writing this article somebody else also mentioned that the US has crocs as well, I didn’t know then, I do now 🙂

      Cheers, Bob

  • Nurrungar November 11, 2014, 12:49 pm |

    For those following the p1, p2 and p3 saga, we currently are only a roadside stop on the possum highway. P3 is a timid soul and although he/she appreciates a dried fruit supper he can be put of by Susie and Jai (cats) smiling at him through the glass. I think his home is in the cottoneaster hedge leaving the sun-room tenant less. At least we are spared the thunderous noise of possum races on the rear decking at 2AM now.

    • BobinOz November 11, 2014, 6:12 pm |

      Ha ha, maybe if they return to your deck you could film those possum races and I’ll put the video on this website. And if you can have the cats watching them from the window, that may speed them up a bit 🙂

  • Steph November 11, 2014, 2:50 am |

    Thanks for this article! I’m in the American South and we have opossums everywhere. I had been wondering the correct grammar (using an or a) to use when referring to them because I’ve always been told it’s spelled opossum but pronounced possum. This article has clarified that we were being lazy Americans and pronouncing a completely different species wrong. I wish ours were a cute as yours! The ones around here are known for rabies and rummaging through trash. I hope your cutie pies are not. lol

    • BobinOz November 11, 2014, 5:23 pm |

      At this moment in time Steph, and long may it continue, Australia is a rabies free country. And as for rummaging through the trash, I’ve never actually seen one of our possums do that, but that’s not to say they definitely don’t, maybe somebody else can clear that up better than I can.

      In an interesting twist on your dropping of the O, here in Australia when we want to be lazy with words we shorten it by dropping whole sections of the end and replacing them with an O.

      Examples; ambulance = ambo, bottle shop = bottle-o, afternoon = arvo

      In that respect, I suspect we are being lazy Australians as well 🙂

      Cheers, Bob

  • Mr. Dude November 10, 2014, 5:08 am |

    “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…” In this paragraph, you mixed up opossum and possum… again.

    • Mr. Dude November 10, 2014, 5:13 am |

      That was not true, I think. Somewhere someone did mix them up, though. Either you or Dottianne

      • BobinOz November 10, 2014, 2:16 pm |

        Sounds like you’re mixed up as well Mr Dude 🙂

  • Nurrungar August 26, 2014, 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.

    • BobinOz August 26, 2014, 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.

      • Drew Snider March 3, 2015, 2:54 am |

        It’s a bit like the pigs on Santa Catalina Island, off California. When the good folk of the Los Angeles area discovered Catalina was a great resort location, they also discovered “naturally immigrating” rattlesnakes. These snakes would hatch near the Los Angeles River, get washed out to sea and catch a current that took them right to Catalina. Yes, some survived that trip “26 miles across the sea”, as the song goes. But when people started showing up, the rattlers became an issue. The answer? Introduce a natural enemy: pigs. The pigs went forth and multiplied and not only devoured the rattlesnakes (yay) but, being omnivores, also tore into the vegetation (boo). They also went feral, making them less than good eating. So now, the experts are still working out ways of getting rid of the pigs. As ’tis said, when you open a can of worms, the only way to re-can them is to get a bigger can.

        • BobinOz March 3, 2015, 10:37 pm |

          Yes Drew, it’s a slippery slope indeed. I wrote about my fears on the plans to eradicate the cane toad with giant meat ants here in Australia…


          I mean, what if these ants just keep getting bigger and bigger? Imagine a whole continent overrun with massive flesh eating ants running out of control, who do we get in to eradicate these ants when they’ve eaten all the cane toads?

          Slippery, slippery slope.

          • Drew Snider March 4, 2015, 1:45 am |

            Then don’t delay! Start an aardvark breeding program today! What POSSIBLE unintended consequences could that bring?

    • Lara March 24, 2016, 7:21 am |

      It’s actually ‘the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedable’. It’s Oscar Wilde quote.

      • BobinOz March 24, 2016, 8:34 pm |

        He may well have done, but apparently Eve Bertelsen wrote the original article “The Unspeakable in Pursuit of the Unbeatable” in 1991. Don’t you just love Google?:-)

  • Nurrungar August 25, 2014, 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.

    • BobinOz August 25, 2014, 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.

  • fortune faychild August 23, 2014, 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.

    • BobinOz August 24, 2014, 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.

  • Nurrungar August 22, 2014, 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.

    • BobinOz August 22, 2014, 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 🙂

  • Scotty August 21, 2014, 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

    • BobinOz August 21, 2014, 9:45 pm |

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

  • fortune faychild August 20, 2014, 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.

    • BobinOz August 21, 2014, 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

      • BobinOz August 24, 2014, 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. 🙂

        • Jill September 1, 2014, 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.

          • BobinOz September 1, 2014, 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 🙂

        • forune November 18, 2014, 4:15 am |

          Have relocated at least 13 so far finding them more rural less populated locales.
          The one in the picture tried sitting on the solar light after sticking his face in the bright light to inspect it. Not the sharpest tools in the workshop.
          The biggest issue with them is they will come inside anytime a door is left open , then hide inside and poop up a storm before i can finally lure them out with bits of food. I have lovely scrub jays that come in to beg for peanuts but they don’t poop inside and they take the peanuts off to cache. The scrub jays are smarter than the opossums and come when called.

          The funniest thing ever happened to me regarding opossums was early one morning i was walking down the street right after the trash pickup had gone by and heard a scrambling noise from a trash can so i looked inside. Two babies opossums cute as can be looking up at me, so i said oh are you the sweeties things, what are you doing in there? A man was walking by and over heard me he looked at me with disgust and made that finger circling gesture by his head that means crazy, he says “crazy people we don’t need you nut cases around here! talking to yourself!!” I said “there are baby opossums in there i talking to them” He goes “yeah sure , crazy people!” and walked off. I cracked up laughing further proving my lack of sanity.

          • BobinOz November 18, 2014, 7:55 pm |

            Just shows you how people can get the wrong idea so easily. I just hope you don’t end up going to a job interview or something and that fella is the other side of the desk 🙂

            Opossums certainly sound very different creatures from possums the more I hear about them. But then, they are, aren’t they?

  • Dana July 9, 2014, 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.

    • BobinOz July 13, 2014, 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?

  • Nurrungar July 5, 2014, 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.

  • Nurrungar July 3, 2014, 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.

    • Hilary July 3, 2014, 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.

      • BobinOz July 4, 2014, 11:39 pm |

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

  • Nurrungar July 2, 2014, 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.

    • Hilary July 2, 2014, 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.

      • BobinOz July 3, 2014, 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.

  • John Hurt July 2, 2014, 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.

    • BobinOz July 3, 2014, 1:52 pm |

      I have no idea what you are referring to John.

  • Nurrungar June 29, 2014, 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 ?

    • BobinOz June 30, 2014, 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

  • Nurrungar June 28, 2014, 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.

  • isa June 28, 2014, 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?

  • Nurrungar June 27, 2014, 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.

    • BobinOz June 29, 2014, 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.

  • Nurrungar June 26, 2014, 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.

    • BobinOz June 26, 2014, 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.

  • Nurrungar June 19, 2014, 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’.

    • BobinOz June 19, 2014, 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.

      • Nurrungar June 22, 2014, 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.

        • BobinOz June 22, 2014, 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.

  • teresa May 2, 2014, 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

    • BobinOz May 2, 2014, 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….


      • Chris May 8, 2014, 6:07 pm |

        American opossums can be ridiculously cute:
        (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. 🙂

        • BobinOz May 8, 2014, 10:12 pm |

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

  • margo March 12, 2014, 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.

    • BobinOz March 13, 2014, 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

  • chris ester March 10, 2014, 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!

    • BobinOz March 10, 2014, 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…

  • danny November 14, 2013, 1:11 am |

    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=)

    • BobinOz November 15, 2013, 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?

  • Cheryl July 3, 2013, 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 🙂

    • BobinOz July 3, 2013, 11:55 pm |

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

  • Eggly Bagelface May 9, 2013, 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.

    • BobinOz May 11, 2013, 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 🙂



  • Rod December 28, 2012, 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.

    • BobinOz January 2, 2013, 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.

      • Jodie April 11, 2015, 1:36 am |

        On Koalas: we unfortunately hit one, on a dark night, in the bush – taking the kids to girl guides. We called our local Koala rescue service, who were stunned that we had stayed with Mr. Koala, who had now perched himself on a small tree on the side of the road. He had a bit of blood on his face, but seemed OK. When the rescuer came forward to put him in the cage to go to the Australia Zoo wildlife hospital – he vented his full blown anger!! He behaved like a drop bear, but on a vertical attack mode. All I could see was claws and hands flying around and the words: ‘Get the bloody hell in the cage, ya naughty little s—‘. Screaming from the Koala and Koala blood and rescurer blood all over the place and my kids crying from witnessing this mad dash for freedom. He was eventually released, but had several diseases and needed treatment for these and the facial wound.

        On this Possum subject, I recall – one early California morning, as I was getting ready for my Qantas working shift, I heard a banging at the front door and found an O’Possum @ our front door, sniffing around – about 4.30am. He was not very healthy looking, gave me a funny look and went down the stairs to enter the neighbourhood drain.

        All of this recollection, brings me to a nightly routine – my parents house has a whole group of possum love triangles going on – on top of their roof. Dancing, jumping from trees, banging from trees to roof, running & chasing each other across the roof. Making love in the trees with very odd noises, like a growling monster. This is apparently territorial and I believe what we have scampering all over the roof is brushtail possums, which are really cute to look at, but make a huge racket and sometimes scare the bejeebers out of the residents. They are protected and cannot be relocated – and when they bring possum babies to the verandah to say hello, they are even cuter. Anyone know of a possum repellant, one that does not involve bullets, before anyone tries to mention it? Do you have Possums making babies on your roof?

        • BobinOz April 11, 2015, 8:06 pm |

          No I don’t have a possum factory on my roof, but I have heard beasts bounding across my tin roof, very noisily, on many occasions. Possums for sure, or at least I think. (Not drop bears I hope :-))

          But c’mon, they are cute.

          Good on ya for staying for staying with that koala, it must have been a pretty rotten experience all round especially for your kids. They can get pretty angry when they want, can’t they?

          • Jodie May 16, 2015, 6:49 pm |

            Both Brushtails and Koalas are adorable, but we forget how wild they are and how sharp they’re claws are. I myself was surprised at how many people don’t stay. How cruel is that? And how in the world can the rescurer’s find them in the dark?

            • BobinOz May 18, 2015, 6:28 pm |


              • Jodie May 18, 2015, 8:26 pm |

                Actually, we thought a torch was that simple too, but we’re told they run up the trees and can even leap across the trees/roads.
                Spotting them on the side of the pitch black road is almost impossible. Keeping them in yours sights until the rescuer comes.

                • BobinOz May 19, 2015, 7:33 pm |

                  They use traps actually Jody, big cages stuffed with yummy possum food. The possum goes into the cage and before he has even finished his starter, the cage door magically closes behind him.

                  No possums are harmed in these cages, they are a protected species here (in some states), so it’s illegal to hurt them. They are simply relocated, but not very far away, because (as I understand it) that is illegal as well.

                  • Drew Snider May 20, 2015, 1:01 am |

                    Hmm … I was about to share a video I shot of a friend relocating a possum near Diamond Island Beach, 10 k north of Bicheno … but if it’s illegal to relocate them, best not. I can tell you this, though: the possum was dashed glad to be let loose into the wild — especially after being bunged-up in a cage under a blanket. He/she also moistened the blanket, which made for a rather fragrant ride home.

                    • BobinOz May 20, 2015, 9:02 pm |

                      I’m not sure what the rules are in each state, but here in Queensland I’ve heard that a captured possum cannot be relocated any further away than 25 metres which is really quite laughable. I think the idea is that you catch them, bung up the hole to the roof where they were getting in and then release them, outside of your loft of course.

                      That means they just live in your garden instead until they manage to break down the bit you bunged up 🙂

                      Yes, they do a lot of ‘moistening”.

                    • Drew Snider May 21, 2015, 1:32 am |

                      Hic iacet diffilicimum … the possums weren’t getting into my mate’s hole in a roof, but into his garden and tromping all over his shed: so it was all outside work. So as I say, a quick peanut butter sandwich (don’t waste Vegemite) and a 20-minute drive to the wild and the possum was happy as a proverbial clam. (Actually, I don’t know any proverbs that refer to clams, but you ‘know what I mean, I hope.)

                      Seriously missing Victoria Bitter up here, by the way.

                      Bobinoz reply: this thread has run out of reply buttons, they do that naturally after about 10 conversations I think, so I’ve had to add this underneath your comment. All I have to say is this…

                      I don’t know where you are right now, but surely they must have beer that is better than Victoria Bitter? 🙂

  • Rod December 28, 2012, 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!

  • kelf December 1, 2012, 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!

    • BobinOz December 3, 2012, 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.


  • Xm September 24, 2012, 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 🙂

    • BobinOz September 24, 2012, 6:13 pm |

      Well that was very kind of you.

  • BG September 13, 2012, 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?

    • BobinOz September 13, 2012, 2:08 pm |

      Well it wasn’t me 🙂

  • Michael August 12, 2012, 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.

    • BobinOz August 13, 2012, 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?

  • Lorraine August 7, 2012, 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

    • BobinOz August 8, 2012, 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.

  • Frank July 2, 2012, 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.

    • BobinOz July 3, 2012, 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!

  • Marisano April 13, 2012, 12:09 pm |

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

    • BobinOz April 15, 2012, 12:52 am |

      Lucky he didn’t then, I prefer crocs 🙂

      • Marisano April 15, 2012, 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!

        • BobinOz April 16, 2012, 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.

  • vanessa April 10, 2012, 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 😛

    • BobinOz April 10, 2012, 10:35 pm |

      As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder 🙂

  • Chris July 21, 2011, 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.

    • BobinOz July 22, 2011, 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!

  • Col B. (Colin Burns) August 5, 2010, 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!.

    • BobinOz August 6, 2010, 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

  • BobinOz August 3, 2010, 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.

    • joe Tronberry March 1, 2015, 6:26 am |

      Opposum will go behind the tree to pee? Go to the toilet? Can it VOTE?

      • BobinOz March 1, 2015, 11:30 pm |

        Let’s see if we can teach them to go to the toilet property first, then we can consider whether or not to let them vote 🙂

  • COLIN N BURNS July 31, 2010, 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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