Meet Mummy Possum

Seeing as it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday here in Australia, I thought I would introduce you to my favourite brushtail possum who visits us on a regular basis. I call her Mummy because she was the first possum with a joey I ever saw.

Below is one of my first photos of a brushtail possum and is also my first photo of Mummy possum. It was taken back in September 2011. It’s not a very good photo as it was taken at night through a glass sliding door. We had been getting quite a few possums passing through at that time and had started to leave a bit of fruit and jam out for them. Then one night we saw this female possum with a joey.

Here is Mummy possum in September 2012 with another joey.

Here’s Mummy with another joey in September 2015.

And here’s Mummy in September 2016 with another joey.

brushtail possums

Here’s a more recent picture of her. This was in February 2017 and you can just see there is a small joey in her pouch.

This is Mummy and her joey about month later. The joey has grown a bit more and is a backrider.

These two are quite fun to watch. Mummy doesn’t like to share her food and it’s funny to see the young one trying to grab a bit to eat.

Here they are visiting on a rainy night.

Mummy is such a fantastic mother, she really knows how to raise her joeys well. She must be popular with the boys too, because she is usually seen with a joey of varying ages and seems to have more joeys than other possums.

You’re probably wondering how I can be sure it’s the same possum visiting all these years. Easy – she’s the only possum that walks straight up to me without fear, and also the only possum who can sometimes be seen standing up on her hind legs looking in the glass sliding door waiting to be noticed and given something to eat! I can also tell from looking at her face. Each possum is individual, and if you make the effort to spend time observing them, it becomes quite easy after awhile to tell them all apart.  And if you look closely at Mummy’s left ear, you’ll notice a tell tale giveaway …. (Click on the images below to see a bigger photo for more detail.)

Since we first saw Mummy in 2011 and she already had a joey at that time, she would have had to have been at least a year old then in order to have young. So, as it’s now 2017, she has to be at least 7 years old. Possums can live up to 13 years in the wild but the average life expectancy is much lower at 6 years, especially for males. I think Mummy has done quite well surviving this long. So far, she has managed to avoid the threats of owls, foxes, snakes, dogs, cats, disease, urban sprawl and even cars.

At the moment Mummy has some missing patches of fur on her hind quarters. I’d say these are from being in a fight protecting her joey and/or home. It looks worse than what it actually is, and the fur is starting to grow back now since this photo was taken about a month ago.

Below is a recent video of me patting Mummy possum. I have been able to do this quite a lot, but I only do it when she’s calm and it’s quiet outside, and when she’s eating. As you will see, by the end of the video, it’s like patting your cat! I don’t know if Mummy actually enjoys being patted, or if she just tolerates it, but in any case, she is free to move away and leave whenever she wants.

I have only been able to pat Mummy like this because we have known each other for around 6 years and we have developed a bond of trust. This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often, and it makes my day when Mummy arrives and accepts a piece of food from me in return for a little pat. And sometimes she turns up and just takes the food and runs off, obviously not in a talking mood.

I don’t recommend you go up to the first possum you see and try to touch it. They are wild animals and can be unpredictable. They can easily be frightened and may attack you, and with their long sharp claws and big teeth, you certainly don’t want that to happen!

Although we have a few possum boxes on our property, Mummy doesn’t seem to stay at our place very often, she just visits for treats. It seems that she lives next door in the neighbour’s shed and also accepts food from the man who lives there! I have also seen her dashing across our driveway at night to and from his house, often with a joey running after her trying to keep up!

Do you have any special relationships with a wild bird or animal that visits your place?




16 thoughts on “Meet Mummy Possum

  1. This is a wonderful story! We do not have the same type of possums here in Florida, but I have seen one a few times in our garden. It is great when we can sometimes form a bond of trust with a wild animal – loved the video of you petting Mummy and all the pictures.

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  2. A beautiful story and images Sue. Our mother possum experiences here are so similar. Our current mother pos has inherited the nest in our back passage ceiling . She has been there at least 8 years and we knew her as a young joey, twice saving her after falls from her mums back. She displays all these characteristics you mention, her current joey has become the most trusting with us of all her babies and is already behaving just like her. Our current mum’s mother was so tame she would rest her paws on my hand while I scratched her ears. During this colder weather I sometimes need to tap on the ceiling and call out to wake them for the evening’s foray. We also have one Ringtail who thinks she is a pet dog ,she even tries to get in the back door sometimes. We are getting a new pup in a few weeks and need to plan some strategies now.

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    1. Sounds like your brushie and ringtail know a good spot to hang out when they see one! I’m sure you’ll be able to sort something out when your pup arrives, and getting it at a young age you should be able to train it well, despite its hunting instincts.

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  3. Happy Mother’s Day Sue for Sunday! It is a loving testimony of motherly love for your furry friends. They have grown to trust you and know they have a safe place to come to and be fed. Good on us mum😊

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  4. I love your posts, Sue, and Mummy’s here too! She appears to be such a wonderful Mother. I agree, you cannot just approach a wild animal and expect no reaction of defense. How wonderful that you gained a trust and bond with Mummy, I’d say she certainly loves your treats! 🙂

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  5. Yes, it is wonderful when a wild animal trusts you. We have a wild Sulphur Crested Cockatoo we have dubbed “Cheeky” because he worked out how the bird seed got to the feeder. Most days he comes looking for me. He peers over the gutter, looking in each window to see which room I am in. Then, finding me, he shouts loudly until I go out. Sometimes I spend ten minutes chatting to Cheeky and he listens, putting his head on the side. For some reason he always checks out my feet. I’ve got to the point of putting a finger on the rail and he will come over and touch it with his tongue (the way Cockatoos examine something). I can also stand very close to him while he eats. Recently he has arrived with another Cockatoo (a female as I saw them mating on our back deck) and we call her Sonia because she makes ‘Yoo Hoo” noises like a female character in one of those British comedy shows. Yesterday I opened the curtains to find Cheeky, Sonia and two other birds on the deck….

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      1. Yes, she already has to a degree. She sits on the back of the chairs on the deck and will shift chairs so she can see me when I am doing things in the house. She will stay there when I go out, but I can’t get as close to her as to Cheeky.

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  6. Wonderful post Sue. I love all of your photos, and seeing your video. How special it is when a wild animal trusts you that much to let you get so close and have a relationship with them.

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