Wednesday 21 December 2022

Update 21st December 2022

For several days now, two of the three young males, Aeon and Rae, have not been visiting. They are still a bit young to go off on their own to seek new territories, however in both cases their mothers' territories are mostly outside the area of the house, so maybe they don't feel safe intruding into an area which isn't their own and which is filled with other increasingly hostile possums.

Aeon - 16th Nov 2022

Rae - 8th Nov 2022

Elmo went away again at the end of October and hasn't been back since.

Before we get into the news, here are some more photos.

Aeon - 9th Dec 2022

Blossom - 18th Nov 2022

Grasshopper - 8th Nov 2022

Kulan - 11th Dec 2022

Sasha - 23rd Nov 2022

Wink - 18th Nov 2022

Wink - 11th Dec 2022

With all of these possums around, they often come nose-to-nose. Usually this ends up with someone being chased off.

Wink (left) and Rae (right) - 21st Oct 2022

Aeon (left) and Grasshopper (right) - 23rd Nov 2022

Kulan (left) and Wink (right) - 11th Dec 2022

Near the end of November, a neighbour alerted me to a ringtail lying on the footpath outside his house. It looked like it had fallen from a power line onto the cement path below. I went out with a pet carrier to take it to a vet but it appears that it was only momentarily stunned because it walked away without any limping or other abnormality when I approached it. It looked healthy and was able to climb up a nearby tree without any difficulty, so I decided not to interfere.

Stunned ringtail - 27th Nov 2022

Soon after this event some bees visited the area. They checked out all of the possum boxes but fortunately didn't set up a hive in any of them. They did however cause some stress for Kulan and Sasha.

Kulan was sleeping on box 1 and Sasha was in Box 3 when the bees visited. For reference, boxes 1, 3 and 5 are all bottom of the garden relatively close to each other and all are in Sasha's territory.

As soon as a few bees entered box 3, Sasha left the box. This was in the middle of the day and normally possums will only leave a box during the daytime in an emergency, but Sasha knew there were two other boxes nearby so there wasn't a big risk involved.

Sasha decided to to go into box 1 where Kulan was sleeping. Normally when a male possum is in a box and a female possum enters, there is a brief fight and the male is ejected, however this time Kulan didn't want to leave. Instead - after a bit of biting and much yelling at each other - the two possums curled up side-by-side and went to sleep.

This is the first time that two adult possums have shared the one possum box.

Soon after this, bees started entering box 1. Sasha then left the box and went to box 5. Kulan was harassed by bees but toughed it out for nearly an hour before they decided to leave him alone.

Neither possum appears to have been stung and the bees departed the area later that day and haven't been back.

But the possums didn't only had to contend with bees.

Early in December at least two and possibly three carpet pythons came into the area and checked out some of the possum boxes. 

[The weird glowing device in the bottom left corner of box 4 is the infra-read illuminator for the camera which was torn off by Grasshopper some time ago and which I still haven't got around to fixing yet.]

Carpet python in Box 4 - 7th Dec 2022

Carpet python in Box 2 - 8th Dec 2022

Carpet python in Box 4 - 12th Dec 2022

The possums were well aware of the pythons. On the 8th Dec, when the larger carpet python (which I think was the same one who visited in October) was in box 2, all of the possums abandoned their boxes. When night came, Wink didn't visit the house for food but instead spent the night very cautiously inspecting the entire garden. She was slowly creeping along branches with the belly down low and sniffing constantly. 

The other possums were also cautious but didn't display the same behavior. It seems like it's the dominant female's role to patrol her territory for snakes. 

A couple of days later, Sasha and Aeon shared box 5 and Wink and Grasshopper also shared box 8. Both of these mother possums had some time ago stopped sharing boxes with their offspring. This is like what happened in 2020 when Rahmet was (we think) killed by a python. When that happened, Sasha and Wink, who had previously been sleeping apart, shared a possum apartment. It makes sense that a python, which might be able to subdue a single possum, would be deterred when faced with two angry brushtails, especially when one of them is a large mother possum.

Here is Wink keeping a watch out of Box 8 which she was sharing with Grasshopper at the time.

Wink looking out of Box 8 - 10th Dec 2022

So far two brush turkey chicks have been seen in the yard. I don't have any photos of them - they hide whenever I go inside for a camera and I don't want to stress them by hunting them through the garden just for a photo.

Merlin, meanwhile assiduously tends to his mound.

Merlin on his mound - 13th Dec 2022

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