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Don’t try this at home

June 14, 2015
Who is making all that racket?

Who is making all that racket?

Great excitement. The nestbox that is so often the subject of this blog was inhabited by an Australian Owlet-nightjar last week. Great excitement because Yea’s local birdo had never seen one and we promised that if an ONJ (not Olivia Newton John) came to stay he would be the first to know. Unfortunately it was a one-night residency and ONJ quickly evacuated: the next day a tell-tale white-tipped tail of a ringtail possum was hanging out of the box entrance. The possum even made an unusual daytime appearance when it climbed out of the box to have a scratch and check out the neighbours (us). With the constant rotation of animals and birds inhabiting this nestbox we have begun to wonder how pristine clean it is inside. Given that this box hasn’t got a hinged lid I can neither check nor clean the box out between tenants.

I'm going back in for a snack

I’m going back in for a snack

This particular tenant is cleaner than most. The Common Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) has adapted to the harsh Australian conditions. During the night when it is feeding on the leaves, flowers and fruit of eucalypt trees the possum produces hard faeces. However during the day when it is resting in its hollow it produces soft poo, which it eats. In this way the possum can conserve water and extract the maximum nutrients (for example nitrogen) from a typically nutrient-poor food source. Sounds like the ideal way to keep the house clean … but don’t try this at home.

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