Those who condemn native urban possums as ?destructive, costly, dirty pests?’ should know that they have lived in harmony with their environment, for over 20 million years and are integral to it.
Possums – Myths and Facts
1. Possums are everywhere, breeding in plague proportions
Brushtail Possums have one young a year; Ringtail Possums can have up to three. However, the majority of newborns do not survive their first year outside their mothers? protective pouches:
About 50 per cent of young female possums and 85 per cent of males die in their first year. The high mortality rate is because of a lack of territory – if they can’t find an unoccupied patch they often die of stress.
Loss of habitat and our urban lifestyle choices contribute to the diminishing survival chances of possums.Evidence supports the view that by the time your children have children there may not be any of these animals left.
The South Australian Government has made it illegal for householders to kill a possum. It hopes this will halt their decline but it warns only a community effort will save the Brushtail Possum.
New research by Jutta Eymann at Macquarie University’s department of biological sciences indicates that there’s a very high turnover of animals and the majority being found are four years old or less.
2.Possums are pests, destroyers of gardens
Possums are native animals protected by wildlife legislation with specific dietary needs. If we have possums in the suburbs we ought to cherish them and, if one does get into your roof and carries on as if he’s walking around with hobnailed boots all over your roof, you may not have a possum problem, as people describe it, you may have a maintenance problem
Possums are nocturnal, thus householders can take practical measures such as netting vegetable gardens overnight, fruit tree collaring, fixing roof holes after providing nest boxes on site for evicted possums-that will enhance the experience of living with possums while protecting garden produce from browsing.
3. Trees and green space for people is our main concern
Possum presence in our parks and gardens is enriching, especially for families with young children, offering a unique encounter with wild animals that have adapted to a changing environment, an experience neither provided by captive wild animals in zoos nor domesticated companion animals.
Green space is also wildlife habitat; uncurbed development has significantly impacted wildlife populations and welfare. Brushtail Possums are made especially vulnerable by the removal of mature trees that provide habitat hollows and the lack of native fodder trees that provide a balanced, sustainable diet; Ringtail Possums on the other hand need interconnecting canopy to move along and thick foliage for nest building. Ultimately looking after possums entails looking after trees and managing open space as habitat, to the benefit of all users.