Sound like a headline from the Daily Mail ?
The ‘deceased estate’ refers to the nesting box which was previously occupied by a brushtail possum. Alas, only a week or two after taking up residency I’d found a cold, dead body on the road outside. While Mr S had tried his best to reassure me that it wasn’t likely to be ‘our’ possum, climbing up a ladder in daylight to peer inside the nest box confirmed the truth – the box was indeed empty.
But we now have a ring tail possum in residence.
We’ve had our troubles with the nest boxes in our Victorian garden, and much of it has been caused by the pest bird Indian Mynas. They effectively deterred the Rosellas and Lorikeets, not by nesting in the box themselves, but by making it uninhabitable for any other bird. The Mynas simply stuffed the box with so much rubbish and bullied any native bird that came near that, eventually, the native birds gave up trying. Over time we modified the boxes in so many anti-Myna ways, removing anything that a Myna could perch on and adding myna baffles (it’s said that they won’t enter a hole unless they can approach it straight-on from the front), but nothing worked to keep them at bay. Then I noticed that a possum had been trying to get into the box – he’d tried to push the baffle up out of the way and had also attempted to prize off the fascia to gain access to the larger, more possum-sized entry hole behind.
Maybe the possum would outwit the Mynas? We thought we’d give him the chance and remodelled the box for a final time, and moved it from the back garden to the front. As already mentioned, the brush tail possum, the first permanent resident, lasted no more than a fortnight before he was run over nearby, and the box has lain empty for quite some time.
Yesterday evening, with the light just fading after another 40 deg day, Mr S called me outside. He’d noticed a head had just poked out of the nesting box, and very soon much of the body was visible too. He looks to be a ring tail possum this time, and I’m wondering whether he might even be the same ring tail that I happened upon two weeks ago, in the midst of the last heatwave. (Yes, it really is only around two weeks since the last heatwave.)
It was 2pm – when possums should be safely asleep in their nest hollows- and I found a heat stressed ringtail desperately trying to cross the blistering tarmac road. After every few steps he stopped and sat down on the hot road surface, frantically licking his paws to cool them. It’s hard to explain to a possum that, just like over hot coals, it might be better to dash across as fast as you can, so I got behind him in the road and encouraged him across to the grass verge, where he was able to reach the temporary safety of a nearby tree, and I then put down a bowl of water close by.
Whether our new resident is that same ring tail possum who was seeking refuge from the ghastly heat, I don’t know. Regardless, if there aren’t enough tree hollows in the bushland across the road, or even if they’re climate change refugees, we’re happy to take them if they’re happy to move in to a deceased estate.