Thursday 22 July 2021

Update 22nd July 2021 - Record Number of Box Possums

On a couple of occasions recently, four possum boxes have been occupied simultaneously. Not only that, but all of the possums are females with pouch babies, so there were actually a total of eight possums in the boxes. This would have to be a record.

Possum Box Camera Overview - 18th July 2021

I think the possums in this screen shot are:

Box 1: Sasha
Box 2: Shane
Box 3: Pax
Box 4: Wink

Wink is significantly bigger than Shane, but appears smaller because Box 2 camera makes possums look larger and Box 4 camera makes them look smaller.

Sasha's latest baby is a boy. 

Often it's difficult to tell what gender a baby possum is. You tell the difference by looking for the testicles, which are quite obvious even on a young baby - but the problem is that young babies are either in the pouch or clinging onto their mother's back and you don't often get to see underneath them. By the time they're big enough to be climbing around the trees on their own and you can see underneath, they are so furry that everything is hidden.

I suppose if it was really important to know, you could pick up the baby, push the fur aside and have a look, but I prefer to spare the possums this indignity.

Anyway, this time, Sasha's baby was seen upside-down in the nestbox and there's no doubt he's a boy.

Sasha and 13th Baby - 15th July 2021

A mother and baby ringtail are often seen fairly close to the house. They seem content to munch on leaves and don't come any closer looking for human food, although this could be that they are deterred by the large number of brushtails close to the house. 

Mother and baby Ringtail - 8th July 2021

Often when a brushtail is in the feeding area they sit looking intently back into the garden or down at the ground. If there are several possums present, it seems that the most senior possum performs this "guard possum" duty. 

It's not clear whether there's a specific threat. I can imagine that the larger than usual number of possums (as well as the presence of sugar gliders) might be attracting predators.

Recently a Wedge-tailed Eagle was seen in the large gum tree in the back yard. It was being mobbed by a variety of other birds and flew off before I could get a photo of it.

A few days later a Tawny Frogmouth was seen in the back yard. 

Tawny Frogmouth - 17th July 2021

Both of these are carnivores, but I think they are probably not what the possums are worried about.

Wedge-tailed Eagles are only active in the day. They won't be able to get at a brushtail sleeping in a box and are unlikely to see a ringtail camouflaged in a drey buried deep in foliage. Tawny Frogmouths are active a night but mostly eat insects. I can't imagine one being a threat to anything bigger than a baby ringtail, although I admit I don't have any personal knowledge one way or the other.

In other news, Merlin the Brush Turkey's wattle seems to have grown and is a very bright colour as if he's getting ready for breeding season.

I checked and Brush Turkey eggs can take up to a couple of months to incubate (apparently 42 to 77 days has been recorded) and last year there were chicks hatching late in September, so this would make sense.

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