I first met Brian in November, 2003 when I was on my nightly patrols. Summer was nearly with us and accordingly the spring mice population was expanding by the hour in the park behind our home. Put it this way, I no longer had to attend twitter #keepfits as I was running about a kilometre a night to and from the park with presents for huMum. The easiest and fastest route was cat flap – fence – top of roof – fence – top of roof – fence, followed by a purrfect soft four pawpoint landing in the park. Being dumb, field mice have none of the offensive manoeuvres of house mice and *whispers* none of the germs. I pounced on family after family of field mice every night but please do not pity these little cuties as, if uncontrolled, they would take over a very family orientated park where children come to play and mums and dads with babies come to find peace. Imagine sharing your picnic with a mass of field mice. So I and my fellow “hoodies” are making the park safe for you. Puffs out chest!
One night I was making my way home along the last fence with a very annoyed, fidgety and squeaky mouse in my mouth and struggling through the Camellia tree, when I heard a noise like nothing I had ever heard. It was a guttural growl and it sent shivers down my spine. I’ve nothing to be frightened of, I shakily told myself. It’s a dark night and being a famous experienced panther hunter then it’s logical that not a soul can see me. Finally, once through the Camellia I was confronted by “Brian the Brush Tail Possum” and boy was he big and very bad-tempered. In shock I dropped the mouse and took 5 steps back into the shelter of the tree, in the hope I could hide myself. I swear to you this guy was at least 5kgs heavier than me, was smelly and those huussskkkks, screeches and guttural growls will give me nightmares for the rest of my life.
Eventually he decided to jump down into my neighbour’s garden so I was free to zoom at a zillion miles per hour back home and cuddle up, still shaking, with huMum for the rest of the night, demanding she wrap me in her arms under the blankies.
HuMum had heard our noisy meeting on the fence, so the next day we spent a few hours on the web learning about them. We have found that their diet is mainly plant-based i.e. leaves, fresh gum tips and flowers, however they also occasionally eat insects, eggs and meat. An open compost bin in a backyard becomes an enticing smorgasbord for a hungry urban possum. Problem solved, he was only after the neighbour’s compost bin and their fruit trees which includes plums, apple and pears.
Over the years I’ve met with Brian on a number of occasions but now his growls no longer freak me out (too much). We say hello but I can’t say that we are friends as he is a vegetarian and I’m a carnivore.
I have a feeling he might be good at cards so with the approval of my “hoodies” I might invite him to one of our Friday night Poker Games. I guess I will have to provide him with a few mice for his kitty as the “hoodies” would laugh at him if he tried to bet with apples.
Last summer we found Brian’s home when sadly a tree damaged in a storm had to be cut back. The very kind tree doctors moved his house to the tree next door. It took him a while to get used to his hew home but I’ve noticed that he built a little roof over it to protect him from all the rain we have been receiving in recent years.
Nap time, bye-bye for now!