A possum has sharp claws, which are good for climbing trees, a bushy tail and big ears (to hear other possums during the night). The possum, like cats, is nocturnal, or active during the night, and can see well in the dark.
Possums have been known to eat whole canopies of rata, totara, titoki, kowhai and kohekohe and prefer new growth as opposed to old leaves. After two years of heavy possum browsing a tree will often die. This means that the possum is also destroying the homes of nesting birds.
Possums compete with native birds for food such as insects and berries, as well as for habitat. Possums also snack on native land snails. They are also a significant predator of bird’s eggs and chicks, such as those of the kereru.
Because the possum has no known enemy, its numbers have increased very quickly. For this reason, the possum is not protected in New Zealand,but is considered to be a pest.
Did you know? Possums can chew up seven million tonnes of vegetation a year!
What can you do?
- Blocking off sheds and barns to deprive possums of nesting sites on your property
- Protect trees with metal strips placed about a metre above ground level to stop possums from climbing up