I can hear that collective intake of breath from wildlife warriors and carers all over Australia. Possums as pets? Wildlife as pets! Isn't it bad enough that humans mistreat dogs and cats, without encouraging them to imprison and malnourish possums and other wildlife? See also: "Living with humans - A possum responds to "Living with wild animals" article" and earlier episodes of Gloria O'Possum's adventures.
Breakfast at 6pm, delivered to my door by a friendly and tolerant human. Note that I can leave and enter the house anytime and I forage for my own food and sometimes sleep elsewhere. I am a free but friendly spirit.
I wasn't talking about keeping us all locked up.
No. I was talking about sharing shelter - as I do with my giant human -.
I meant not locking us out of the Great Indoors which you humans have converted our forests into. I was talking about time-sharing possum boxes with the local population, hanging out together in the garden, growing native trees to attract us to your backyard, going on bushwalks together, singing at the moon together, playing with baby possums together and interacting with adults on a free and equal basis.
Baby possum and human interacting
Free to come and go, human and possum. I wasn't talking about locking us up, feeding us tinned 'possum-food' and 'science-diets', or taking us for a walk on a leash (Great Possum no!). I was talking about living and letting live and making friends.
Intolerance of different species is rife amongst Australians. Although the government preaches multiculturalism, possums and other wildlife are displaced and persecuted - even killed - by humans. Do humans really prefer dogs and cats to possums, quolls, devils and roos, or is it just because they have been discouraged from making a connection with Australian wildlife?
A lot of wildlife carers think that the government really wants to get rid of all of us native animals. The government is very unfriendly, calling us pests and taking away our natural habitat. A recent treasurer of Australia, Peter Costello, said that he wanted to get rid of all of us! What a horrible remark! He should have been locked up for hate crimes as well as for promoting greed and human overpopulation.
A lot of humans think it is illegal to keep Australian wildlife. Well, it IS illegal to lock some of us up without a license and, so it should be. The same applies to locking up humans - you also need a license. But it isn't illegal to interact with us and let us live on 'your' property. No policeman is going to come along and tell you that you mustn't address possums on your back fence, or feed them gum-flowers, or have them come in and out of your bedroom window and sleep in a possum box on the dresser. No policeman is going to come along and tell you that you may not encourage a long-necked turtle to live in your swimming pool or fish pond either, although you need to conform to certain specifications if you purchase a long-necked turtle.
You know who will try to tell you not to be friends with us? Your dog or your cat. They will try to kill us. These animals have been taken from their natural homes and they have brought a culture here that is anti-possum, just like many human settlers who were not born here or who grew up in a possum-less high-rise, or who have been so indoctrinated with Beatrix Potter animal stories that they are rabbit, dog and cat mad.
Okay, you love your dog and cat. But, when they die, please think about us possums and the rest of the indigenous animals. Don't get another dog or cat. As well as being naturally cute and funky, natural tightrope walkers and roof-dancers, we are so much more convenient. You don't have to desex us, you don't have to register us, you don't have to keep us inside all night or walk us on a leash. We are free to come and go - except where we are falsely persecuted in public places and by intolerant householders.
One of a tribe of possums at Catani gardens, St Kilda, harassed by the Council, falsely and persistently accused of spreading Fusarium wilt
Yes, a possum-human relationship can be an equal partnership. What's more, you can follow us into our world. Imagine, children, tree-climbing with friendly possums. The poor dog or cat - at best tolerated as immigrants - have no real citizenship. They are not allowed out and about without a human in tow. But the possum, the kangaroo, the long-necked turtle, the quoll - we are free as birds - or we would be - if there were not so many dogs, cats, and wildlife-phobic politicians out there.
Let's clear up this misunderstanding now.
You can buy possum-boxes at your local petshop. What's stopping you?