Hello Possum!

It would appear that my somewhat dodgy house, with its flanking posse of immense eucalypts, now has a new tennant: There’s a possum in my fireplace.

The long of this is that the house has three fireplaces, one fully plastered off, one with an elegant little victorian wrought-iron fireplace (but the chimney is sealed off) and a third which my landlord saw fit to seal off with a piece of plywood and a broken, disconnected gas-heater. It is this third fireplace that now seems to be inhabited.

On Tuesday night, as I was catching up on my email and bracing myself for another roleplaying session, I heard a muffled thud, followed after a little while by a faint sneezing sound, then a little later by a scratching noise. My initial supposition that perhaps a bird had somehow fallen down the chimney drove me to tilt back the board and have a look. This is what I saw:

Concerned that this new resident might have fallen and hurt itself, or be stuck, around midnight that same night I checked again, to find my fireplace empty. The following morning the furry bundle had returned, and was soundly asleep: no beady eyes greeted me this time.

From this, E and I have assumed that Possum (pronoun withheld pending evidence of gender) has taken up deliberate and intentional residence in the old fireplace. We have no other use for said fixture, so Possum is entirely welcome. Besides, Possum is a very large brush-tailed individual, and it has been my experience that such critters are both fierce and heavily armed… not to be meddled with:

A lady I once knew, by the name of Irmhild, had an old two-storey house in Warburton where the an upper-storey bedroom had its own balcony, with a couple of large trees hanging over it. In the Summer, when the upper storey of her house would get untenably hot, she and her husband would perforce open the french doors onto the balcony and let the breeze in.

With the breeze, occasionally, came troupes of possums.

It was Irmhild’s avowed belief, after some years of this, that the only way to deal with a brush-tailed possum was as follows: Run at the possum at top speed, shouting to ensure that the possum keeps facing you. When you reach it, sieze the possum’s tail, and lift. Now as quickly as possible, begin to spin the possum around over your head. Proceed thus, still spinning, to the nearest window and eject the said marsupial.

Brush-tailed possums, she said, have three key weapons: Their claws, their bite, and projectile urination. Their claws, as I have myself witnessed, are on the order of an inch long, and wickedly sharp despite their three-climbing habits. Their bite, while unhealthy, is probably the least of their weapons, less fearsome than that of a cat. The last item, however, is as unexpected as it is hideous: they have uncanny precision of aim, and a range on the order of eight feet.

Hence, besides any other reasons, I will not interfere with my new guest. Maybe I will try feeding it an apple. 🙂

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