Friday, 24 November 2017

Update 24th Nov 2017

I'll start with a photo of Sasha. Sasha is in good health and has a noticeable baby in the pouch. It might not be long before we see the baby at least partially out of the pouch when Sasha is in the nestbox, especially if we get some hot weather.

Sasha - 16th Nov 2017


Arrow is still around, and isn't expected to be chased out of the area until perhaps February of next year.

Arrow - 19th Nov 2017


Arrow - 23rd Nov 2017 [Photo by Xesce]

Recently, he has been acting very cautiously when near the house, occasionally sitting motionless as if watching or listening for threats. It is possible he is looking out for larger possums - he has avoided acquiring any pluckings or wounds so he must be good at evading them - however he might also be on the alert for pythons.

The first python of the season has been spotted. I can't imagine one of this size being a threat to the possums, but of course there are most likely bigger ones around.

Small Carpet Python* in Box 4 - 15th Nov 2017

[Edit 30th Nov 2017: * This snake is most likely a Green Tree Snake (Dendrelaphis punctulatus) and not a Carpet Python.]

Koji has visited again a few times after a fairly long absence. His father Wasabi used to do the same thing.

Koji - 15th Nov 2017

This might also be related to pythons, however he was seen watching over a young ringtail in the front garden, and he might have been playing his part looking after babies.

Koji (left) and young ringtail (right) - 13th Nov 2017

It is not clear what relation this ringtail is to him. It seems to be younger than his siblings Niva and Nebo would be now, but older than I would have expected for a baby of his own.

Zoe has been seen and occasionally visits the house. She seems to visit when there's the promise of mango, which she particularly enjoys.

Marlowe is also occasionally seen. Here he is hiding behind a tree at some distance from the house.

Marlowe - 17th Nov 2017

Gatsby the Brush Turkey continues to collect leaf litter from all around the garden for his mound. I say leaf litter, but this includes all sorts of things including quite large tree branches. At one stage he managed to kick a short-handled shovel out from under the house. I don't think he wanted it for his nest and I suppose it had just got in his way. Good luck to any python who tries to rob his eggs.

Finally, here is a photo of Galen the Gecko who lives on the balcony. So far he or she has escaped pythons, butcher birds and other predators with the loss only of a tail, which has now mostly grown back.

Galen the Gecko - 16th Nov 2017

6 comments:

  1. I hope Sasha has a girl this time.

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    1. All of Sasha's known babies so far have been boys, so I agree it's time for a girl.

      Apparently [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1088841/] brushtails can skew the sex ratio of their offspring according to local conditions and can have up to about a 2:1 ratio of boys to girls if nesting spots are scarce. I wouldn't have thought nesting spots were all that scarce here, but the previous two dominant females, Kiki and Cocoa, had almost exactly this ratio (Kiki: 4 girls, 8 boys and one unknown. Cocoa: 1 girl and 2 boys).

      Maybe I should put up more nest boxes...

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    2. But it does not look like the nest boxes are of heavy use. I look at the sleeping possums every now and then, and I noticed that only one or two boxes at a time are in use. Maybe my checking time pattern biases the result though.

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    3. Your observations are accurate. Rarely more than two boxes are used at a time, and often considerable periods go by with none of the boxes occupied at all.

      I think the issue might be that brushtails want to have quite a few spare nesting places in their territory, and the five usable nestboxes (plus handful of other places such as inside the garage door) on the property might be only barely sufficient for the resident possums.

      Brushtails are in great danger if caught in the open in daylight and at any time a nesting place might be destroyed (e.g. tree falling over) or become unsafe (e.g. a python is nearby), so it would make sense for a possum to always ensure there were a few alternative places to go.

      It's difficult to tell how many nesting spots are required per possum. Studies, like the one I mentioned, almost always look at possums in natural bushland so probably aren't applicably to a suburban location like here.

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  2. Sasha looks fantastic! So well kept :) How many joeys she has had already?

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    1. Including the current one in the pouch, this will be six since she arrived here in 2015. She was a fully grown adult when she first turned up and would have already had several babies by that time.

      Sasha has got a lovely coat of fur and is in very good condition altogether. Maybe she's big enough that other possums run away rather than try to fight with her.

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