Ever heard the sound of something running on (or in) your roof? Ever lost your favourite rose bloom to a night-time feaster? Ever woken to a loud thump in the night? Well, you are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of others have too – and it seems they are happy about it, or at least reasonably so. Why? Because they love the culprit. The offending animal is a possum, one of Australia’s most loved (if occasionally most hated) animals.
This book explores the results of “Operation Possum” a state-wide survey of the location, habits and behaviour of possums in South Australia in 2008. This survey also explored the attitudes of people towards these beautiful, yet mischievous marsupials. Our reactions to possums and our interactions with them are captured by many delightful and insightful stories that were submitted by over 2000 survey respondents during Operation Possum. The antics of possums with names like Percy, Mrs Fatbum and Jabba the Hut, in chimneys, roller doors, fruit trees and parks will make you laugh (often) and cry (occasionally), but most importantly will reflect your own experiences with these remarkable beasts.
The Possum-Tail Tree: Understanding Possums through Citizen Science is a novel investigation of a creature that is part of so many Australian lives, in one form or another. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in possums, has lived with them or is intrigued with how we humans interact with our urban wildlife.
The project and book were undertaken by researchers at the Barbara Hardy Centre, at the University of South Australia, inconjunction with 891ABC local radio.
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2010 Whitley Award – Certificate of Commendation for Urban Zoology
Authors: Philip Roetman and Christopher Daniels
Cartoons: Ross Bateup
Foreword: Matthew Abraham and David Bevan