Ruby was found dead on the balcony one evening recently. She had been in perfect health prior to this and had no visible wounds. My theory is that she was attacked by a (comparatively) small python, who was probably after one of her babies, and ended up strangled, but the python had been unable to swallow her. Apparently pythons sometimes do this.
I know this isn't a common thing, but her fur looked heavily compressed in a ring around her upper chest, and there were other less heavy indentations lower down which were consistent with a snake wrapping itself around her three times. These indentations were the only unusual thing about her body and it's difficult to account for them otherwise.
Here is one of the very last photos of Ruby.
|Ruby with Niva back-riding - 23rd Feb 2017|
The good news is that her babies, Nebo and Niva, survived this incident. Their older brother Koji, and father Wasabi, immediately took over the role of caring for them. This was a very interesting thing to witness.
Ruby was first seen four years ago and would have been at least one year old at that time. It took a couple of years for her to start visiting the house and another year before she was confident enough to start introducing her babies to the humans.
Her known babies are Red, Maple, Clover, Koji, Keeta, Nebo and Niva. Vindi may also have been hers.
Ruby was a cheerful and friendly possum, but took no nonsense from other possums if they tried to harass her. She even managed to scare off the much larger Sasha on at least one occasion.
She will be missed, but she lives on in her numerous and vigorous offspring.
Here are some photos of Koji looking after Nebo and Niva. (Wasabi was also doing his share looking after the youngsters, but we don't have any photos of them together.)
|Koji (right) looking after Nebo (left) - 6th March 2017 [photo by Xesce]|
|Koji (top) looking after Niva (bottom) - 8th March 2017 [photo by Xesce]|
And here are a couple of videos, which show that he was doing more than just sitting in a tree nearby.
And some more photos of Nebo and Niva.
|Nebo - 6th March 2017 [photo by Xesce]|
|Niva - 8th March 2017 [photo by Xesce]|
And a video of them playing on the balcony rail a week before the tragedy.
There hasn't been any startling news on the Brushtail front.
Farley must have got into a fight recently and appeared one night with numerous small scratches, pluckings and a limp. Fortunately, he rapidly got better.
Mischa is still around and is growing quite big and strong. He is now at an age where he could leave the area at any time, although there are no signs of him being actively chased off.
|Mischa - 9th March 2016 [photo by Xesce]|
Raffi is being a typical cute little brushtail. He is still sharing Box 7 with his mother Sasha, although in recent hot and sticky weather sometimes Sasha leaves him in the box in the middle of the day and goes and sleeps on top where it's cooler.
|Raffi - 8th March 2017 [photo by Xesce]|
|Sasha (right) and Raffi (left) - 9th March 2016 [photo by Xesce]|
Toto has been seen again recently several times and continues to look strong and healthy.
Finally, it seems that at least two of Gatsby's chicks have survived, because he was seen with two of them resting in the garden recently.
|Gatsby (left) and two of his chicks - 13th March 2017|