Possum of Steroids

I am utilising this tale to introduce the "Operation Possum" project and survey.

In Australia the possum is an endangered species ... well actually in most states of Australia. In Tasmania they are culled and often allowed to be killed and eaten. Many people find possums to be troublesome and pests. On the 22nd August, here in South Australia "Operation Possum" was launched. Guided by the official media launched as published in an Adelaide Pagan Yahoo group, I ventured to the website to under-take the survey.

After completing the survey, I was given the opportunity to supply my possum story to the site, and as such I would very much like to retell the story here.

Dragonfly and I are fortunate to live in a semi-rural surrounding with many beautiful trees and green lawn. Of course in such a setting you can expect abundant wild-life wandering around on occasion and one such fellow, is our resident possum Arnie.

Arnie likes to make his presence felt on most nights and although, I have not got too close to the little fella with an obnoxious attitude, I am pretty sure it is male. As we have a nanny goat tethered in our back yard, Arnie has the habit to steal the food scraps given to the goat at night ... he wanders down from his high perch in one of the gum or liquid amber trees wanders around the lawn and terrorises the goat in the process. 

Our female cross cattle and kelpie dog who is also, chained up at night has the misfortune also of being occasionally "bashed up" by the marauding mammal if ever she leaves dog food in her plate.

As such, I am quite often disturbed and find myself having to go outside at night to placate a frantic goat or yelping/ barking dog. Fortunately, our two cats are placed in the shed/ cattery at night but this does not prevent Arnie sitting on the roof of the shed and chattering away to the felines and attempting, in all possibly, to provoke a reaction from them ... sometimes he succeeds.

I believe that I am the only human resident of our house who has had an up front and personal encounter with this possum on steroids, as often late at night when I venture outside to have a puff on my pipe (I do not smoke in the house) and to look up at the moon and the stars, I have came face to face with our little friend (well if you can call the size of a large cat little that is). I am usually greeted with a hiss or a growl as he scrambles away to the nearest tree where he usually stares down at me indignantly.

Michael Lee-Price


Media Release

There's another event beginning with O which starts on an
auspicious date - move over Olympics, here's Operation Possum.

Following the success of Operation Bluetongue last year where 1500 South
Australians contributed to a wildlife survey, 891 ABC Adelaide and UniSA have
joined forces once again.

This year the online survey, which is available from Wednesday 20 August at, aims to find out how possums live and interact with humans
in South Australia. Through the power of citizen science and harnessing the
knowledge of the public, UniSA and 891 ABC Adelaide both hope to gain some
useful insights into this protected and somewhat endangered species.

Professor Chris Daniels from UniSA is excited about Operation Possum, saying:
"We know essentially nothing about the natural history of possums in our parks
and backyards. This is a really useful way to use the collective observations of
South Australians to help build a complete picture concerning the distributions,
habits and life styles of our most iconic native urban mammal and what we do to
encourage, or even repel, these animals from our parks and gardens."

ABC's Matthew Abraham and David Bevan will officially launch Operation Possum on
Wednesday at an outside broadcast of 891 ABC Adelaide's Morning Program live
from UniSA's Mawson Centre. Guests will include Professor Chris Daniels and
Philip Roetman from UniSA discussing citizen science and how listeners can help
us all learn more about these nocturnal native animals.

Love them or hate them, all South Australians are encouraged to visit the
website and take part in the 3 month survey to give us a better understanding
into the possum.

The Operation Possum website,, will prove a
valuable resource for anyone who interacts with possums or just wants to know
more about them. Visitors can do the survey, find out what possum features are
coming up on air on 891, get the latest information on managing possums in their
environment, upload photos of possums in their backyard or pose a question to
UniSA researchers via the Message Board.

Possums polarise opinions and 891 ABC Adelaide expects plenty of talkback on the
subject - it's as much about attitudes to these animals as it is about facts and
figures! So come along to the Mawson Centre on Wednesday 20 August to take part
in the broadcast, help launch Operation Possum and log on to the survey at the

Operation Possum website:

You can download the Media Release Here

* Media Release published with the approval of ABC and UniSA.