Friday 8 March 2019

Update 8th March 2019

Nikita and her babies Ryder and Rune are in good health and are visiting frequently.

Ryder (left) pokes her tongue out at her mother Nikita  - 9th Feb 2019 [Photo by Xesce]

Ryder and Rune both appear to be little girl possums.

Ryder - 9th Feb 2019 [Photo by Xesce]

Ryder - 9th Feb 2019 [Photo by Xesce]

Ryder - 9th Feb 2019 [Photo by Xesce]

Rune is particularly brave and often vists the humans on her own.

Here is a photo of her practicing tying knots with her tail. I think this a half-hitch.

Rune - 3rd Mar 2019

Nikita is a first-time mother but has no problems taking care of her babies.

Ryder (top), Nikita (left) and Rune (right) - 5th Feb 2019

Nikita with Ryder(?) back-riding and Rune(?) following - 10th Feb 2019

Possum Train: Nikita (left), Rune (centre) and Ryder (right) - 1st Mar 2019

However, their father, Austen had been seen lending a hand (unfortunately he hasn't been seen for a while and there are no new photos) and Koji - their grandfather - has also been doing some child minding. Here is a video with Rune and Koji together and it appears as if Rune wants to back-ride on Koji. It has been claimed that sometimes baby ringtails back-ride on their fathers. I've never witnessed this but the way Rune was behaving it's possible she had ridden on her grandfather's back in the past.

Rune (left) and Koji (right) - 8th Mar 2019

Here are Koji and Nikita on the balcony hand-rail. Nikita looks a lot like Koji and from a distance it can be difficult to tell them apart.

Koji (left) and Nikita (right) - 7th Mar 2019

Koji is looking very healthy. At this age, his father Wasabi had a serious tail infection which would probably have cost his life without treatment.

Koji - 5th Mar 2019

There is another female ringtail in the area. She keeps away from humans and it's difficult to know who she is, but she may be the same possum who was named Pebbles late last year.

Here is a photo (not too good, but it's the only one I have) of her with a baby. This is probably her own baby although there's a very small chance this is some female relative of Nikita looking after Ryder, although I doubt this.

Pebbles(?) with baby - 7th Mar 2019

And a close-up of the baby enjoying a delicious leaf.

Pebbles'(?) baby - 7th Mar 2019

Bilbo is still around and is in good health.

Bilbo dangling - 15th Feb 2019

A couple of weeks ago he arrived with some pluckings and a hurt leg. He could barely use the leg and it seemed as if it might be broken, however it got better in a couple of days so it must have been a strain or a bruise.

Biblo seems to know how to look after his injuries. When the leg was bad he kept away from other possums who might chase him and went to bed very early (around midnight when his normal bed time is more like 5 am).

Bilbo with hurt leg - 21st Feb 2019

Pogo hasn't been seen for about a week. He is now at the age where he might leave the area at any time. Hopefully he will have at least one more visit before he leaves for good.

Pogo - 9th Feb 2019 [Photo by Xesce]

Pogo - 22ndFeb 2019

Now for some bad news: It looks like something has happened to Zak.

On the 3rd of March, Sasha slept in Box 7 without Zak. This wasn't an immediate cause for concern; sometimes adventurous baby possums will sleep away from their mothers from time to time, and Box 7 is in the garage, so there were plenty of spots nearby where a baby could be hiding. But on examining the possum box camera footage, I found that Sasha has briefly visited two boxes before settling down to sleep for the day, and it seemed that she had been searching for Zak. Also Zak was nowhere to been seen in the garage.

Zak has not been seen since that time. I'm not sure what could have happened to him. There was a marauding cat seen recently in the garden, but Sasha would have kept Zak well away from cats. There hasn't been a single python seen this summer (not even any shed skins) and Sasha had been taking particularly good care of Zak. On two separate occasions a couple of weeks ago he got onto the balcony floor and had difficulty climbing onto the hand-rail - he let out some distress calls and Sasha immediately rushed to his aid, much more quickly than normal.

I'm wondering now if the reason Sasha was so attentive was that she knew there was some danger around.

Here are some photos of Zak.

Sasha (left) with Zak back-riding glares at Pogo (right) - 22nd Feb 2019

Zak clings to Sasha's side - 3rd Mar 2019

Prior to taking the photo below, Zak had his foot right in Sasha's face but removed it the moment I took the photo.

By the way, the white power on Sasha's nose is Divetelac (lactose-free milk powder for animals). Possums are occasionally given pieces of wholemeal pita bread dipped in this powder in an attempt to give them a more balanced diet, although I'm not sure this really matters with the relatively small amounts of human food they get.

Zak clings to clumsily to Sasha's face - 5th Mar 2019

Merlin the brush turkey is still around. His leg slowly improved over time and is now virtually back to normal. He was unable to do any major yard rakings to build up his nest but he managed to maintain it well enough that another turkey chick hatched on around the 13th Feb. Like the others, this one disappeared after a few days, although a neighbour reported seeing it in his yard about a week later.


  1. These baby ringtails are cute beyond words! Are they really unusually plump or is it just me (noticind it after looking at pictures of a couple of unusually plump resident squirrels, deciding that we shall cut the amount of hazelnuts they get)?

    1. From what I've seen, the little ringtails have a pretty normal level of plumpness for their age.

      I think that now the babies are not longer suckling, they have to eat a lot of leaves to meet their energy requirements and this fills up their little bellies. They get a very small amount of human food and I don't think this plays a significant part one way or the other. When they first started coming around, Rune was always eager for human food, whereas Ryder wasn't so interested and often stayed away, yet both babies achieved an almost identical level of plumpness.

      Also, posture plays a part. When stretched out (e.g. dangling down by the back legs) they can look quite thin.

  2. I love this blog. I check it most days to see what the possums are up to. I have built two nest boxes and have a two regular brushtail possums who visit. There are also several ringtail possums in the area though I can not tell them apart!

    What sad news about Zak! I read somewhere that brushtail possum mating season is typically spring and autumn. I am curious with the timing, if Zak was still around I assume Sasha wouldn't have another baby until spring, but with Zak suffering a mishap, do you think Sasha might have another baby in the pouch now?

    1. Thanks for your comments, and thanks on behalf of the possums for putting up nestboxes. :)

      Sasha almost certainly has another baby in the pouch; the pouch has a slight bulge in it which is probably a baby. I think that mating happens soon after the previous baby is weaned (the previous baby would be under its mother's care at this point and perhaps still back-riding, and gets left in a safe place during the actual mating) so even if Zak were still around she would most likely have another baby in the pouch by now.

      Normally, Sasha has two babies a year, the first one usually appears out of the pouch in January and the second generally in August. It will be interesting to see if her next baby arrives earlier than normal.