Playing Possum.

The brushtail possum is an Australian marsupial with doe-eyes at one end, a soft fury tail at the other, and an arsenal of surgically lacerating weapons stored covertly in between.

Oh, and they poop bullets….like a cluster barrel Gatling gun.

My partner Kelly and I have been at war with one particular possum for several months now. She took up residence in the rafters of our garage. Up in the supporting lattice where we store all the stuff we really should throw out and a few of the things we shouldn’t..but that has now been up there for so long… look like we should.

Lengths of lumbar. Some old doors. Crumbling boxes of things somewhat forgotten. An old laptop. Christmas decorations. A guitar case.

The first thing we noticed was the poop. Small black banana shaped pellets on the garage floor. Pellets that at first seemed disproportionately small to have come from a possum. I thought we had rats. 

As I was soon to learn, what possum crap lacks in calibre it more than makes up for in magazine size.
It was everywhere.
On top of the car.
All over the tins of our emergency pandemic (or zombie apocalypse) food stash.
Among the toolboxes and paint tins and plastic storage containers.
It looked like the aftermath of a faecal firefight.

And something else. Urine.

The entire garage stunk of stale ammonia, and we could see dried urine stains running down the sides of our car.

One evening we saw her sneaking out on our security camera. A hop, and she was up onto the front gate post. She did this sort of Rumba across the length of the fence and disappeared like a ninja up into the neighbours fruit tree.


How totally cute I said.
No Ian, we shall call her Bitchclaw. Corrected Kelly.

Demonising your enemies is one of the first strategies in war.

A war that was not going well for the allegedly superior species.
To date Bitchclaw had completely mocked all our Google inspired attempts at possum eradication.

  • We blocked off all the external entry points we could find.
  • We cladded the wooden pillars of the garage in slippery tin sheeting.
  • We added plastic spikes to stop her getting over the top of the roller-door.
  • We threw hand fulls of pungent naphthaline balls up where we thought she was sleeping.
  • I made Kelly spend the day in the garage singing a Mariah Carey medley over and over (don’t tell the RSPCA).

Nothing worked.
Bitchclaw came and went as she pleased. She crapped. She urinated.
She redecorated the garage just the way a possum would like it. She even collected all the naphthaline balls and arranged them into a V for Victory sculpture atop a tiny plinth of poops.
OK. Perhaps I imagined that last bit.

Garage fortification fail.

Exasperated, we finally called a professional possum wrangler. For a not-insignificant fee he would trap Bitchclaw and then release her elsewhere.

That’s fantastic! Problem solved. I’m thinking somewhere deep in the Tasmanian wilderness would be good. Or maybe the Galápagos.

Sorry mate, I have to release her within 50 metres of the trapping point. It’s the law.

Fifty metres. Seriously*.

Just yesterday, Kelly decided to put up our Christmas tree. Climbing up on a ladder she reached up into the box where the tree is stored. In the garage.
She grabbed hold of the soft Christmas tree bristles.
To pull it out.
I think you know where this is going.

I was on the couch, not helping as usual. The curdling scream penetrated straight through Midnight Oil playing live at the Sydney Pavillion on my Bose noise cancelling headphones.
Like a hot marsupial claw through butter.

I ran out to find Kelly and Bitchclaw facing off on the floor of the garage. Kelly was OK but between her and the possum, I don’t know who was more shaken up.
Picking up an old blanket that had also fallen from above I stepped forward flapping it vigourously.

I yelled: Begone! Away with you! Get ye to the Galápagos! Or some such other equally intimidating exclamation.

Bitchclaw turned and ran.
Being pulled out of bed by the tail.
The godforsaken screaming.
The dude standing there waving the Smurf blanket and babbling.
It was just all too much.

It has been two days now and we have not seen her. To be truthful we sorta miss Bitchclaw, and we’ve talked about putting up a possum house in a nearby tree. Perhaps we should have done that in the first place.


* To be fair, research has shown that most possums relocated over any great distance do not survive longer than a week.

Original possum photo credit: Magdalina_B

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Ian Miller

5 thoughts on “Playing Possum.

    1. Very funny but unfortunately, from bitter garage experience (I did everything you did), when one possum is moved on, another moves in. Possum catchers are just a take. The possum box is a good idea but you will then have possums in the garage and in the boxes.

      Like

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