Opossums, or possums as they are commonly known, are found throughout New Zealand and were first introduced from Australia in 1837 with the aim of creating a successful fur industry.
However numbers have grown to epidemic proportions and they are now the biggest threat to our native forests and birds. They number somewhere in the tens of millions in New Zealand! Having so many of them all around our country has a severe impact, and for a variety of reasons.
Possums are omnivores. They eat not only leaves, but the fruit, nectar, buds and flowers of trees - having a significant impact on the health of the tree and limiting food sources available for native species.
They kill our native species and their young/eggs, and take up nesting sites that would otherwise be used by native birds. Even the likes of the bold kea with their super strong beaks and claws are killed and eaten by possums.
Possums are also a vector for the infectious disease bovine tuberculosis (TB) and they are the main source of TB infection in farmed cattle and deer herds in New Zealand.
Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) can live up to 10 years. They are marsupials which raise their young in a pouch and are mainly grey or brown, but on rare occasions golden like our display possum 'Goldie'.