Once Upon a Time there were 3 baby possums

Once Upon a Time there were 3 baby possums

These possums were very sad because they had lost their mummies.
Poor little Gordon’s mummy died from eating poisoned baits; a human found him sitting next to his mummy and took him to be looked after by a human who looked after possums like him.
Because he was a still a baby, we had to keep him warm and give him special marsupial milk. As he got older, Gordon started to eat flowers, fruit, insects and vegetables. Gordon needed to have suitable branches of various diameters and different types of wood in his cage to practice climbing and to strengthen his limbs.
As he grew, he was given more different types of foods that he would probably find in the bush (bush tucker) when he was released. In the bush, at different times of the year, he would find various nuts and seeds, bird’s eggs, small lizards and spiders.
Gordon also learnt to eat an assortment of leaves such as Acacia saligna, sheoak leaves & nuts, marri and jarrah flowers and leaf tips.
While he was in care, he was taught how to find food inside shells. He was given peanuts in shells for this purpose, He was also given fruit from snotty gobble bushes and foraged seasonal orchard fruit. Gordon`s release cage was opened so he could explore his environment safely, knowing he could return at any time. Gordon spent a few weeks transitioning from the safety and comfort of his release cage to the big wide world outside.
Gordon has lived on our Yallingup property (40 acres) for 19 months and lives a healthy, independent life.

Billy, the pygmy possum, was found in a bucket outside a studio. We have discovered that this is a fairly common occurrence. Mum is carrying several babies on her back as she leaps from bush to roof to tree and occasionally, one or more babies fall off her back. Amazingly, many are discovered and taken into care.
Pygmy possums are tiny. They only weigh about 15g as adults! Billy came in weighing only 5g!! Like all marsupials, pygmy possums drink marsupial milk from a teeny, tiny teat laced with honey as they are nectar eaters. Pygmy possums are released when they reach the weight of 13g! We keep our pygmy possums in a humidicrib for the first few days after they are brought into care. We provide as natural an environment as possible in both the humidicrib and the tub they go into as they get older.

Western Ringtail Possums
My mummy was running along a fence in a backyard, with me hanging on for dear life using all four claws/paws and my teeth biting the back of her neck. I was a back rider which means I have been spending time out of mum`s pouch and growing my fluffy coat. I stayed in mum`s pouch for 12 weeks, drinking milk from her teats. Western ringtail possums have 4 teats but rarely have more than 2 pouch babies. Mum often leaves me parked somewhere safe while she goes off to find yummy leaves. I don`t move until she returns.
Tonight, as mummy was running along a fence near our drey, a dog suddenly rushed up to the fence and leapt high, grabbing my mum and pulling us both off the fence!!! There was a lot of awful, loud noise and mummy was screaming in fear and pain. I was knocked off mummy`s back and crawled away to hide from the scary dog that was attacking mum.
Humans came rushing out, shouting at the dog. They picked up my mum and took her away. I never saw her again. I stayed hidden behind a pot. I was shaking and shivering with fright. I stayed there all night, hoping my mummy would come back for me. She didn`t.
I stayed where I was, cold and fearful until morning. I was hungry. I couldn`t find anything to eat on the ground.
After awhile, I decided to venture out to try to find something to eat. Suddenly, there was a shriek and a bit of a kerfuffle. Something was thrown over me so I couldn’t see. I was picked up, but couldn’t see. I was put into a box with the towel. I huddled down into the towel, trying to disappear.
I was taken in a strange contraption that was noisy with people talking loudly. I was rolling around inside the box at times. I was scared and hungry; where was my mum? The box was picked up. Then more voices and loud noises. I was picked up by a human and prodded and poked all over. Suddenly, I was stabbed with something sharp, but I felt better after awhile. I was put in another warm box and left alone. I curled up and went to sleep.
More noise and talking. Someone removed me from my warm place and put me in a cold box. At least I had a beanie/pouch to curl up in.
We went for a ride again in a noisy contraption. I want my mummy!!!
We have stopped. I have been picked up in my pouch and am being carried. More strange noises. I am weighed. I am toileted. I am given warm fluid that trickles down my poor, dry throat. I feel warm and comforted now. I am put in a warm comfy, hanging bag. Sleep, glorious sleep.
My life has changed. I still miss my mummy, but I am safe and comfortable in my new home. I have a new mum, who looks after me really well. I am growing up.
I have been moved from my cot into a large outside cage. There are lots of branches and leaves in cylinders for me to eat. I have a choice of a nest box or a hanging basket. I am outside where I can feel the breeze and smell all the smells I need to learn about my new home.
After a few months, my release door is open!!!! I am pretty scared about leaving the safety of my aviary, but I venture out a little way. Then, back inside. The next night I try again. I hear rustling above and smell the familiar smell of another western ringtail possum. We touch noses and inspect each other`s ears. All good. Off we go to explore a bit more of the environment. Mum and Dad have left lots of leaves and bottlebrush flowers for me, in case I want to come back. This is what soft release is all about! I find out that some possums leave the first night and others stay for a couple of months! Some go away for a week or more and then come home.
I am very lucky to have found this place. I have even met a guy!

During the school holidays, we give educational talks one night a week at the local RAC Holiday Park. After the talk, we also take the audience possum spotting which both children and adults love!!!

Linda Falconer
Wildlife Group
Possum Rescue & Rehabilitation Inc.