How can something this cute be the scourge of our native forests and the biggest pest New Zealand has.
There are about 30 million possums in New Zealand – that’s about 7 per person! Possums will munch through around 9,000 tonnes of leaves, berries and fruit every night.
Possums are not native to New Zealand.
The first possums were brought to New Zealand in 1837 from Australia – to start a fur industry.
Possums are native to Australia and are protected there. Many trees in Australia have possum defences such as spines, prickles or poisonous leaves – ours don’t! Possums in Australia have a lot more parasites, and more predators than in New Zealand.
In New Zealand possums have no natural enemies which is why possum numbers increased so fast. The possum is not protected in New Zealand, it is a pest and it’s doing a lot of damage to the native plants, animals and birds.
This particular possum was disturbed by a friend using an ‘outhouse’ or ‘longdrop’ in back country NZ. It dropped on the ground where 4 dogs decided it was fair game. We stopped the dogs so we could photograph it. It just sat stunned in some dead branches under a tree. I was able to use a stick to get some of it’s fur out of his whiskers, then when were done we tried to encourage it to move back up a tree. Was very reluctant to go.
Taken on the Rainbow Station, South Island, New Zealand.
Canon 100mm f2.8 Lens
Featured in “Country Bumpkin”