There are MILLIONS of possums in Australia and New Zealand. "Brushtail" possums commonly live in the roof spaces of older houses in Brisbane, where they make a considerable racket. It is hard to imagine how noisy such small animals can be. They sound like a thundering herd of elephants when they run about on my ceiling at times. Visitors from South are often greatly alarmed by the noise they make there and look dubious when you tell them that it is "just possums". Most Brisbane people are used to them, however. Nonetheless possum removal experts do a good trade. The fact that the slightly different species described below is so rare almost certainly indicates that it has been out-competed by the more adaptable common "brushtail" species and was headed for extinction anyway.
Although they are only about the size of a small cat, Australia's possums (a different but related species to the American opossum) are remarkably fearless of humans, which is rather endearing and gives rise to the Australia expression of "Stir the possum". If you disturb them they will often snap back rather than run away. That fearlessness is probably bad for them in New Zealand, however. New Zealanders hate them and do all they can to kill them. The fact that there are probably more possums in New Zealand than there are people might have something to do with that. But I certainly enjoy it when I am having an evening meal on my verandah and a possum comes strolling past along the telecoms cable that runs above the street in front of my house. They are remarkably confident little animals and seem to do a high wire act with total ease
And I can vouch for the fact that Australia's "brushtail" possums are marsupials. I got quite a clear view of the marsupium of a female possum while sitting at my dinner table recently. There is a mulberry tree that abuts onto my verandah and possums often leap about in it quite unconcerned about the nearby human presence. It is always a great pleasure to see them there. And I live in an old inner-city area, not in any kind of rural setting. But Australian inner city areas tend to be pleasant, leafy places. I also see wild turkeys about the place a lot -- JR
A POSSUM population believed to have been wiped out by climate change is in fact clinging to survival, scientists say. Researchers say they have discovered three living brown lemuroid ringtail possums in the Daintree National Park, on Cape York, although the Daintree possums were believed to have been killed off during a heat wave in 2005.
No white lemuroid possums - which once accounted for 40 per cent of the lemuroid possum population in the area - have been located so far.
But Associate Professor Steve Williams of James Cook University said there was no reason to believe they wouldn't have survived alongside their brown relatives. "I don't think there is any reason to believe the white ones are harder hit than the brown ones," he said.
Lemuroid ringtail possums are found in just two locations, at the Carbine Tablelands in the Daintree and in the Atherton Tablelands, west of Cairns, though white lemuroids are extremely rare in the latter location.
Prof Williams said the Daintree possums had not been spotted since an extended heatwave in 2005, leading to the belief that they had been pushed to extinction by climate change. He said the species could not cope with extended periods of temperatures over 27 degrees.
"Over the last 50 years, the number of days where you get that temperature has been steadily increasing, to the point that in 2005 there were 27 consecutive days where the temperature went above that threshold," he said. "That seems to have really knocked them down."
Prof Williams said the species still hadn't been found in locations where they had been common and his research team would try to identify why they had survived in the current location.
He said the possums remained extremely vulnerable and another heatwave could wipe them out. "I don't think they are out of danger in any shape or form. It is very clear that these heatwaves are steadily increasing," he said. [And where is the evidence for that? It is just a creed he is uttering]
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here