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15 July 2010 / Liz Johns

The Nightly Visits of Patrick the Possum

One the joys of living in New Zealand, for me at least, is experiencing the delightful, nocturnal company of the possum. (Let me pause whilst all the Kiwis take an audibly sharp intake of breath.) Yes, this Aussie creature is classified as a pest in New Zealand and possums are openly killed, but I’m not going to expand on the whys and wherefores of this action (maybe another time when I get my soap box out), this post is merely to introduce you to Patrick. Patrick, my friendly-neighbourhood Possum.

In the beginning, Patrick used to mooch around just outside the back door, stealing the leftover chook food. As the back door is left open for the cats to come in and out at night (even though there is a perfectly good cat flap in another door) it wasn’t long before Patrick invited himself in to search the house for tidbits of food, and after that he started visiting every night. I know he visits, even though I don’t always hear him come in, because of the tell-tale signs in the kitchen the morning after, apples with bites taken out of them, half-eaten bananas and the previous night’s dinner plates mysteriously devoid of all leftovers.

His latest pleasure is chilling out in the kitchen on the beams! But I don’t mind, I like my nightly wildlife visitor. The only drawbacks are being woken up in the wee hours to the sounds of Patrick running along the wooden floors of the hall, or the sounds of rustling if he finds a bag he suspects contains food.

Can You Spot Patrick?

What surprises me most about the Australian possum, is that they are so incredibly tame. Any other wild animal would scarper if you went towards it, but possum are so much more relaxed. I’ve fed them by hand and they gently take the food offered. I have to admit I’m always a tad cautious doing this as they have long, extremely sharp claws designed to help them climb trees swiftly and safely.

Just one last thing – the other night I left some dog biscuits in the hallway for Patrick. The next morning, they were gone, and in their place was a small pile of possum poo. How about that for digestive efficiency.

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