Friday 5 July 2019

Update 5th July 2019 - Baby Possums!

Sasha's baby (her 9th) has just started coming out of her pouch in the nestbox, so now is the time for a Baby Possum Alert.

As a bonus, Nikita has also brought one of her new babies to the house for the first time.

Nikita with back-riding baby - 2nd July 2019 [Photo by Xesce]

Nikita had two babies in her pouch (the usual number for a ringtail), but was only seen with one when she visited. However, it is not unusual for a mother ringtail to leave one or both babies elsewhere when visiting. Baby ringtails are very competent on their own from an early age, and I believe that other ringtails in the family watch over them. Nikita's boyfriend (still no photos of him worth posting) has been seen around the house recently and is probably looking out for them.

Although not visible in the photos, Nikita's baby had curled his or her tail in a tight spiral, rather than wrapping it around Nikita's body as babies normally do when back-riding.

Nikita with back-riding baby on water bucket - 2nd July 2019 [Photo by Xesce]

The water bucket here is kept on the balcony partly as a source of water for wildlife and partly as a free hydrobath service for marauding cats. In case anyone is worried, it does get periodically emptied and refilled so that it doesn't get foul or start breeding mosquitoes. It is always filled close to the top, so even a small possum falling in can get out.

Sasha with baby on back in Box 7 - 4th July 2019

Sasha's baby, who is as yet unnamed, is still at a fairly early stage of development - long kangaroo-like head, rat-like tail and only minimal fur - but if you're lucky you might be able catch him or her climbing over Sasha during the warmer parts of the day.

The box cameras are at this link. Click on a box to get streaming video for that box. Sasha is mostly using box 7 and occasionally boxes 4 and 3.

Earlier this year, a commenter speculated that after Sasha lost Zak, she might have her next baby earlier than normal. This may have happened, because Sasha's latest baby is perhaps two weeks more developed than Pogo, the baby she had this time last year.

However, on the ringtail side, Nikita's baby has appeared about three weeks earlier than Zoe's did last year. So perhaps there are other factors involved. This winter has been warmer than the last and maybe the possums are anticipating an early spring. But possums are unpredictable, so who knows?

Bilbo is still around and healthy. Here's a photo of him looking a bit cautious - there are two female possums to his left, both weighed down by babies and probably grumpy.

Bilbo - 4th July 2019

Bilbo is also sleeping in the boxes most days and confines himself to boxes 1, 2 and 3. A few times, Bilbo has brought leaves into the boxes.

Bilbo dragging a tail full of leaves into Box 3 - 30th June 2019

I don't know whether it is a coincidence but twice recently, Bilbo has made the "tfff-tfff-tfff-tfff" call - which is the distress call that babies make when separated from their mothers and is also a placating sound made by adult males when approaching a female - while being fed, apparently to alert humans that he was in need of more food. If he is doing this deliberately, that would be the first time that a possum has communicated in this way.

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