House Possum

There used to be a small family of common brushtail possums ("brushies") living in the walls of my house in Canberra. They squabble quite a bit (or at least it sounds like squabbling), so we knew when they were home. We never did anything to discourage them from living with us, but lately it's been pretty quite and I think they've moved house. Nonetheless, they're still around. The mother has always been the tamest of the family, and when I hang my laundry outside after dark she'll often come up to me and give me a sniff. She's pretty happy being patted as well, as long as I move slowly and don't do anything to spook her. Someone probably feeds her, but I don't.

 A member of the brushtail family feeding around my house. A visiting researcher who had spent four months in Australia without seeing a brushy can be seen in the background, fulfilling her dream on her last night in Canberra.

A member of the brushtail family feeding around my house. A visiting researcher who had spent four months in Australia without seeing a brushy can be seen in the background, fulfilling her dream on her last night in Canberra.

Recently, the mother brushy had a new baby emerge from her pouch. Brushies are marsupials, so babies are born tiny, pink, and useless. They mature in their mother's pouch, protected from the harsh world and consuming only their mother's milk. Once they have eyes, fur, and various other things possums need to survive, they leave the pouch and ride around on their mother's back for a while. That's what I saw when the mother brushy came running up to me while I was hanging laundry last night.