Spring has seen a migration of brushtail “possums”. Travelling males never seen before are being sighted. This deciduous maple tree that has almost overnight gone from barren to lush green is attracting possums from neighbouring territories. Spring is well and truly here.
I had seen this female on the fence at the back of the property but here she is feeding avidly on the fresh maple leaves. I’ve called her Tippa because if you look at the tip of her tail, it is white.
It’s interesting that there’s so little written about what Australian brushtail phalangers (so-called “possums”) eat. The field maple tree is right next to the photinia and they clearly prefer the maple. The photinia is being left almost untouched, bringing though it is with fresh young leaves that spring has brought forth. It may be that the possums prefer mature photinia leaves but like their maple leaves young. The young photinia leaves are red and perhaps they contain some metabolite that possums can’t detoxify. Only a month or so ago I feared that the possums would strip the photinia trees bare of leaves causing them to die.
The second shot is there to prove that Tippa isn’t just putting the leaves in her mouth for show, she really is swallowing them!
It’s clear that there has been a seasonal change in browsing preferences. Once again I am astonished that nobody has bothered to study and document the behaviour of these iconic Australian marsupials.