back to article From the studio that brought you 'Mortal Wombat' comes 'Pernicious Possum'

Though it pales in comparison to the bloodlust seen in last year's tale of "mortal wombat" – where the marsupial allegedly went berserk on a family in the Australian outback – a possum holding a woman "hostage" in New Zealand is just as absurd. Note that this is not the sabre-toothed death mouse otherwise known as the opossum …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In view of the number of possums seen as roadkill around NZ, the naturalist on our last organised tour referred to them as "squashums". He encouraged us all to take out as many as we could during our travels.

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To be fair

      The article did say that they would try to eradicate "the most dangerous introduced predators" rather than all of them.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Paul Herber Silver badge

      Kill all humans. Now, what was the question?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pets? PETS?

    These wee fuckers kept me awake for much of my youth - much of NZ's housing stock is covered in corrugated iron, and they have non-retractable claws.

    Hanging's too good for em.

    1. Martin Gregorie

      Re: Pets? PETS?

      .. and some of them enjoy sliding down corrugated iron roofs at night.

    2. Precordial thump

      Re: Pets? PETS?

      Sadly, cute is their only redeeming feature if they're living in your roof space.

      The possum-fur socks I bought in NZ are the cosiest thing ever, but I'd have to order new pairs from the other side of the ditch - they're protected species here on the mainland.

      Wombats, OTOH: cuteness, personality, cubic poo, attitude.... What's not to like about the bulldozers of the bush? No wonder Wombat Wednesday became a thing when lockdown brought a hitherto unexpected need for emergency cute.

      1. Denarius Silver badge

        Re: Pets? PETS?

        wombats ? Plenty of room for them in national, state and reserves. For the rest of us who have stock to keep in and paddocks to walk, great holes in fences and sudden appearance of trip hazards are serious issues. Along with the massive erosion the things cause with tons of earth sliding into waterways. About time the city dwellers left the working industries that feed them alone

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        2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: Pets? PETS?

          Mate... You're on their land.

          1. Denarius Silver badge

            Re: Pets? PETS?

            when they pay the bills. Nope, no legal standing and not named on rates notices. So you expect me to spend my time and money so you feel good ? I rest my case. BTW wombats very recent in my woods. Only arrived 10 years ago, so they arrived on my land.

  4. Aladdin Sane

    And now I want one as a pet.

    1. Adair Silver badge

      No, you really don't.

      Possums make great pets when they are juveniles, but the adults aren't quite so much fun.

      Take something a bit larger than an average cat, fit it with non-retracting and very sharp claws, add anal glands that produce a foul smelling gunk, and then top off with a fright reaction which commands: 'climb_the_nearest_vertical_object_as_rapidly_as_possible_and_if_you_are_really_scared_shit_everywhere_making_sure_to_empty_those_special_anal_glands'. Obviously, the nearest 'vertical object' will be you, or your mother-in-law, etc.

      Now, go and enjoy your new best friend.

      BTW, they have other interesting habits as well, including, as mentioned above, sliding down metal roofs at night, and also having a horrible laugh-cough that makes it sound like you have some crazed axe-killer lurking outside your house at 3am.

      Did I mention they are nocturnal, so you won't see much of your pet during daylight hours.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Did I mention they are nocturnal, so you won't see much of your pet during daylight hours.

        but then... if they're nocturnal, given their natural habitat being down under, etc. it would be daylight for them in the UK, right?

  5. Coastal cutie

    There's a monster in the garden

    Apparently New Scotland Yard once got a call from a very distressed gentleman who had been chased round his garden by fearsome spiky monsters. Despite wondering if the gent was entirely the full ticket, a unit was despatched to assist (that was when there were enough officers to do such a thing). They found an utterly terrified chap - and a family of hedgehogs. Turned out he'd never seen one before and thought they either bit you or shot quills at you, as it was once believed porcupines could do. The previous owner of the house used to feed them so all they were doing was trying to remind the new owner that it was dinner time. It was explained they were harmless and just needed dog food putting out nightly - result, one relieved human and a family of happy furze pigs.

    1. Magani

      Re: There's a monster in the garden

      Obviously Spiny Norman

      1. HildyJ Silver badge

        Re: There's a monster in the garden


    2. NXM Bronze badge

      Re: There's a monster in the garden

      We kept hearing this hideous screeching noise from the cowshed. Some of the cattle wouldn't go in because of it, they were terrified. We thought it was some sort of unusual bird.

      After about 3 days we traced it to an open manhole cover, down which was ... a hedgehog. We lifted it out, gave it some cat food, and it wandered off happily.

      But my question is this: who was the hedgehog screeching to? Nobody but a human would help it, everything else would try to eat it or ignore it (except cattle, who ran away). Hedgehogs aren't tame, but it must've been calling specifically to us. Only did it when it heard our voices too.

      1. A Nother Handle

        Re: There's a monster in the garden

        My wife has been invoved in hedgehog rescue for about 2 years now and our experience is that some do appear to recognise familiar voices or sounds. One would recognise the sound of me doing the washing up as the start of the feeding routine and sit by her bowl.

        We once found an injured hog in our garden sitting in the doorway of an empty hog-house, as if waiting for us to find him when we did the nightly feed. Another one was spotted in the grounds of the school at the end of the road and by the time my wife had been summoned and got out there it was halfway to our house. The idea that they know where to find help is nice but probably just confirmation bias.

        The banshee wail they do when in distress is truly spine-chilling. I feel for you having to endure it for 3 days and if I was your cows I would want to sleep somewhere else too.

        Remember rule 0 of wild European hedgehogs - If it's out in the day it's not okay. Contain it in a high-sided box (they are good climbers with long legs) and contact a local hedgehog rescue

        1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge

          Re: There's a monster in the garden

          Here in Oz one of the scariest sounds is when you go camping in the bush and there's a koala or two up the local gum trees during the night.

          They have a blood-curdling, low growl.

          When we got married my partner and I, being hippies, went camping for our honeymoon.

          We were awoken late into the night by the previously described sounds.

          Took ages with torches to finally see the culprits in the tree growling whilst looking like they're yawning.

          Yeah, cute but probably want to kill you in your sleep like most stuff here.

          Could be worse - could be drop bears. Now they are deadly ;-)

          Always check your jackets and boots. ----------->

  6. dajames Silver badge

    'Pernicious Possum'

    Sounds like an Ubuntu release ... wasn't it the one after Obnoxious Orang-Utan?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: 'Pernicious Possum'

      AH, yes, that's it. I was thinking it might be an O'Reilly book, but yes, more like an Ubuntu release name.

  7. Alan J. Wylie

    "Pernicious Possum" sounds just like an Ubuntu release codename

    Ubuntu releases

    10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)

    11.04 (Natty Narwhal)

    11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)

    12.04.5 LTS (Precise Pangolin)

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    Throw it on the barby

    Apparently, possums are delicious after the requisite preparation and cooking on a barby, so not entirely useless.

    We have couple of families of wild pigs in the campo (countryside) around my house, those I don't ignore, though if you can get one to get on a barby they are good too, if a little chewy.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Throw it on the barby

      Most possums in NZ have bovine tuberculosis - decidedly NOT ok unless very well cooked and as human vaccinations don't cover it you need to be very careful about blood contact whilst preparing the meat

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Parents of young children know this feeling well.

    this is totally an urban myth, in fact, young children only lick their parents' feet!

  10. Kernel

    Plod should know better.

    "The possum was released into the wild without harm befalling critter or officer, "

    The last time I looked there were only two legal options should you happen to catch a live possum in NZ - either kill it yourself or get someone else to kill it for you.

    Oh, and the description of an adult possum above left out the bloody great yellow fangs, which they will happily sink into your shin while you are trying to hit them on the head with a hammer (an officially recommended option for complying with the live possum rules) - the only redeeming thing about them is that in NZ, at least, they don't carry rabies, meaning I avoided a long series of painful injections that have to be given "just in case", as by the time you show symptoms it is too late.

  11. Dagg

    They are not small, cute or can make good pets

    These are the australian brush tail possum and may be small and cute in austalia but in NZ particularly in the south island and around Dunedin they have grown big. In aus they are 2-5kg but in the south island they can be up to 14kg with extremely nasty sharp teeth and sharp claws that carry some very nasty bacteria.

    One rule we used was if you are opening the shed or outside dunny and you hear something inside is get the hell out of the way as if it is an adult possum it is going to go through or over you to get to the outside. And it is highly likely you will come off badly!

  12. PRR

    Death mouse??

    > not the sabre-toothed death mouse otherwise known as the opossum, which is native to the Americas

    The Virginia 'Possum, the only opossum in North America, is no mouse. More like a house cat. About 1610, John Smith recorded it "hath an head like a swine... tail like a rat... of the bigness of a cat." Usually found at night dead. And stinking. Even dogs won't go near. Has Zombie blood: if you go away and come back, it has gone. ("Play possum" is no joke.)

    Wikipedia: The opossum is typically a nonaggressive animal.

    Compare with Australia's Drop Bear.

    > gentleman ... fearsome spiky monsters. ....hedgehogs. ...thought they ...shot quills at you, as it was once believed porcupines could do.

    When we moved to the woods, a porcupine lived under the deck. That one moved away from our dogs, but they are not very bright. This or another came back. They are fair tree climbers and excellent fence climbers. They are nocturnal. One night my big dog went out in the yard, barked, then YELPed. She's a fraidy-cat, stands back and barks. I think the porky BACKED into her nose. Midnight at the emergency vet, $700 bill. Left untreated, quills can fester and work their way through vital organs.

    Porky is the only critter which will turn its WELL-quilled back on you. (Well, and Skunk, but by the time skunk turns you are already in trouble. Ask my other dog.) If you are in the Maine woods and hungry, and alert, you can club a porcupine easier than any other meal-size prey. Porcupine is ideally fried on a flat rock greased with bear fat.

    > Apparently, possums are delicious

    That may be, though today I think my southern kin talk about it more than they actually eat it. In the past possum was served with sweet potatoes, and associated with Presidents Taft and Carter. It was famine-food to the Mayans, but in Granada and neighbors possum is popular.

  13. Cuddles Silver badge


    I'm not convinced that's actually a word. Did you perhaps mean "fortunately"?

    1. PRR

      Re: Relievedly

      > Relievedly .... I'm not convinced that's actually a word.

      Not familiar here, but Collins Dictionary lists it, as "British English", with peak use in the WWII years.

  14. Raphael

    It's a pet named Mrs Scoby Lunchbox

    I have a mate who used to practice his target shooting (was on the NZ air rifle team) by shooting the possums at the local golf course. He used make a fair bit of the fur (about NZ$100/kg)

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