The Possum TV site has been retired. The site's format was not practical for the long term, and the last entries were added in April 2009. I am not sure how things will go, but I hope that eventually GK will create a possum blog. For now I will try to sum up some of the changes that have occurred in the last year or so. Footage of nestboxes can be seen on GK's Possum TV Live site. At present it is more practical for household use than mass viewing, but that may change.

All photos on this page are by GK.

Rosebud & Gumdrop

A ringtail finally used the box that had originally been designed for ringtails - up until then, only brushtails had used the box, and it was quite a popular box. The ringtail Gumdrop first dropped in some nesting material, and then it became evident that she had babies in the pouch. There were three of them, but one disappeared fairly early on, and after a while so did a second. The third one, Rosebud, grew to a fairly large size, and continued to share the box with his mother until it was obvious that she had a new batch of babies in the pouch. For a time they took turns using the nestbox, while occasionally still sleeping together. Neither one is currently using the box. The babies first utilized their mother's tail as a rope when climbing out of the nestbox for the night, and then began to use each other's.


Queek was the dominant male possum here for more than a year after he recovered from a bad eye injury. The eye in the end always had a small spot, but Queek adapted well, and seemed confident and healthy. He seemed to be very fond of nestboxes, and to sleep almost exclusively in them. We now have 6 nestboxes on the property, but when we had only 3, Queek divided his time between each of the boxes close to equally. He disappeared rather suddenly last year, around the time of the last Possum TV entries. He had seemed to be doing very well for a long time, and when he slept in the nestboxes, he appeared very comfortable, getting a restful sleep. One day (there had been a storm the previous night) he didn't sleep in a nestbox, and we never saw him again. He is very much missed.


We had thought Leena's baby Kirra was a female, but she turned out to be a he. 'Kirra' could have been changed to 'Kir', but if females can have traditionally 'male' names, why can't males have 'female' names? We called Kirra the 'blond possum', because of the tint of his fur. Leena seemed to stay near Kirra, or to allow him to remain close by, as if protecting him, even when he reached the age when most young possums become independent, although he was one of the male possums Leena tried to prevent from sleeping in nestboxes. Kirra was the possum who was hit by a car in October 2009. He is also very much missed. On the night before he died, I had thought he looked lonely or distressed. Kiki had been getting all the attention, because of her injury. As a compensation, I gave him a piece of chocolate - it was dark chocolate with a lemon-lime filling, and it was the last food I ever gave to him. Possums do not frequently receive treats such as chocolate, but I am glad that Kirra had something special for his last meal.


Not long after Queek disappeared, a new male made an entrance. We named him Hulot. He may have been trying to take over the territory, or he may have been around for breeding season. One of the names I originally thought of was Portnoy, and it turned out that it might have been appropriate - as we have never seen a male possum have so many erections while in a nestbox. Hulot was around for a considerable time, but we have not seen him recently. It may be difficult to tell from the photo, but he is large in comparison to most brushtails around here. He is an amiable possum who sometimes has provided comic relief through his physical awkwardness.


Pesto started coming around, and Hulot's presence was less visible. I do not think of possums as pests, and I am still somewhat uneasy about calling a possum Pesto, but the reason for the name relates to his food preferences. When he first came to the house for food, he did not want to eat the usual possum foods - fruits - but held out for what the humans were eating, which was pesto. Pesto often sleeps in nestboxes, and has tried out 5 of them, although he usually sleeps in either box 1 or 3. Pesto acquired a cloaca infection not long after we first had contact with him, and was treated successfully with antibiotics. Pesto is an exceptionally persistent possum - if Leena chases him out of one nestbox, he heads for another. If all the other possums are trying to keep him from getting any food, he will either show up earlier than the rest of them the next night, or find the one unguarded entry point, and quickly sneak in and out.


As I have mentioned in Possum Clinic, the possums Švejk and Kiki were also successfully treated with antibiotics, Švejk for a staph infection on his face, and Kiki for an infection related to a dead toe. Švejk is doing very well and appears to be the dominant male here. Once he had been treated, he might have 'paid Hulot back', (as Švejk recovered, he went after Hulot, with the result that Hulot looked a little weatherbeaten for a while), but after that, it seemed that the two of them managed to coexist relatively peacefully until the time of Hulot's departure.

Švejk has gradually acquired a more reddish colouring (originally his fur was mainly grey-toned.) It could be that this colour change is common for male brushtails as they get older - Hulot and Pesto have also become a little more rufous over time.


Kiki's first baby was Fifi - and Fifi was the first baby here with a pronounced white tip of the tail. For a while she was sleeping under the eaves/in the ceiling, in a slanted area of the roof, but as she got bigger it is likely she had to find another place to sleep. We have not seen her for some time, and hope that she is well. She may have learned to fend for herself early, as Kiki was encumbered by the dead toe/foot injury when Fifi was quite young. I have slip-on shoes with black feathers on them - Fifi used to find it amusing to leap at them (with my feet in them) as if pouncing on a rival possum. She also leapt at the (handheld) camera, trying to bite it, and when misted (in warm weather) with a spray water bottle to try to keep her from stealing Kiki's medicated food, she leapt at the water bottle, too (she actually seemed to like being sprayed with water.)


Kiki hadn't been visiting at the time Fifi began backriding. She only stopped by a few times with Fifi before she injured her toe. Luckily she came by regularly enough for a while that she could receive antibiotics and we could keep an eye on her. We can now recognize Kiki when she visits a possum box, because of the missing toe. When she tries to visit the house, Leena and Yoshi both try to force her to leave. When taking food from a human, Kiki would every once in a while bring her paw across in a kind of swiping motion - on one occasion, she left a scratch on my index finger that looked like an exclamation mark.

Leena & Yoshi

Leena is probably a bit over 3 years old, and we have had contact with her for over 2 years. With humans she is very gentle. For some time now she has found it necessary to police the nestboxes and prevent males from sleeping in them, but she herself has only used the nestboxes a few times in total. We are not sure why she is doing what she is doing, but it may be adding to her stress level. In late May 2010 (the time of writing), Leena is being treated for a staph infection near her eye. (The photo above shows Leena's usual appearance.) Up until now, Leena has never had a health issue. At present the infection has cleared up, and fur is beginning to grow back.

We now have more females in the area than ever before: Leena, Yoshi and Ninja. Kiki visits only occasionally, and might be just on the outside of this territory. She probably has another baby in her pouch at present, and in addition, both Leena and Yoshi have babies in the pouch. All of this may increase stress for all, and I am not sure what it means regarding the future.


Leena's third baby is Yoshi, a female with even more white at the tip of her tail than Fifi. Yoshi is currently (May 2010) here a lot, and is very bold about trying to take food from other possums. There is a small ceramic bowl into which we occasionally put muesli as a treat for possums - one day while Leena was in the house eating from the bowl, Yoshi snuck in and stole the whole bowl from under her - she took the bowl in her mouth and leapt into a tree - we had never seen a possum try to steal the bowl or take it outside before. When she was done with it, she dropped it into the garden without breaking it.


Kiki's second baby has been named Ninja (I have sometimes called her Batgirl). When she visits, she often creeps stealthily along the balcony floor, hiding behind pots and peering out from behind them. She seems pretty brave, willing to face Leena, Yoshi and other adult possums when she visits. I am not sure why she is tolerated yet Kiki is not, but it may have something to do with her age/lack of adult hormones, or that she can still escape onto small branches. When a possum stands up on its hind legs ready to strike, we call it a 'grizzly possum'. Above Ninja is not really in full grizzly possum mode.

Nestboxes 6 & 3

There is considerably more vegetation in the yard than when we first had contact with possums. We now have 6 nestboxes (GK made all of them himself and hooked up cameras in all.) GK is considering putting up more 'possum apartments' in the garage. Boxes 1, 3, 4 & 5 are brushtail boxes. Box 2 was originally designed to be a ringtail box, but brushtails have used it more often than ringtails so far. Box 6 is a sugar glider box. So far, the sugar glider box has only been used by ants.

In the past on the Possum TV site, I have perpetuated some misinformation, such as 'ringtails are more social than brushtails' and I may also have given a misleading impression about how likely nestboxes are to be used once put up. Many of the nestboxes here have remained empty, while possums have chosen instead to sleep in the garage roller door, or a stack of tires in the garage.

Leena has even chased or hauled males out of nestboxes just as they are settling down to sleep for the day. We are not sure why this is, but maybe it represents an instinctual attempt at population control.


This does not look comfortable! but in having thick skin and fur, I suppose it is like having a built-in quilt or comforter. (Above Yoshi rests in the garage roller door for the day.)


Here is Yoshi in a stack of two tires, on a shelf high in the garage.

The reality is that healthy female brushtails can have two babies per year. If you do the math, it isn't possible that all of the babies and adults can continue to live and breed indefinitely.

The more experience we have with possums, the more likely we are to pick up about the realities of possum existence and struggle for survival. Cats, dogs, cars, and human habitation all pose threats to wildlife. The neighbourhood has been undergoing development for some years now, and is likely to continue to do so for considerably longer. There are fewer spots for possums, and increased competition for those that are available, and meanwhile, new possums continue to be born.

If you had told me several years ago that I would be treating possums with antibiotics, I wouldn't have believed it. It's a difficult dilemma: am I overinvolved with possums, and should they be left to their own devices? The trouble is that in consenting to have contact with them on an ongoing basis, and deciding to feed them, greater awareness results. It is too difficult to shut out perception of the changes and difficulties that arise. I either have to ignore them completely, or try to help those who are experiencing obvious discomfort or distress.

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Note: I receive both antibiotics and advice from a vet who has extensive experience with treating wildlife - Dr Jim Pollock.















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