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New Zealand Declares War on Possums Because They Are the Worst Marsupials Ever

New Zealand has a possum problem. The island nation, which is about the size of Colorado, has 30 million possums. That works out to about 290 possums per square mile. The non-native critters “chomp on wide swaths of forest, kill millions of birds and chicks a year, and go around spreading bovine tuberculosis to cows,” reports The Atlantic.

The brushtail possums, introduced to New Zealand in the 1890s by Europeans in an attempt to start a fur industry, aren’t the same  possums that dwell here in the U.S. North America. For starters, the animal we know colloquially as a possum is really the Virginia Opossum. More importantly, New Zealand’s brushtail possums are significantly cuter, what with having hair on their tails.

I’m going to on the record and just say that possums are the worst. marsupials. ever. The other marsupials are awesome: koalas, kangaroos, sugar gliders, wombats. Possums just suck, comparatively.

“Some people think of them as the world’s dumbest mammal,” critter expert David Seerveld told me, “but they do have some skills.” Mr. Seerveld, who operates a humane nuisance wildlife control business in Orlando, Florida, has removed live opossums from roofs, attics, walls, and even a car engine. He also deals with all kinds of other crazy wildlife, because, you know, Florida.

Yeah, I know opossums have skills. They have mad skillz in freaking me out.

Once upon a time, my husband took the trash cans down to the curb before work. Later, he did remember thinking, “huh, this seems kinda heavy” but it was still dark out so, you know, whatevs.

When I went outside a bit later to take my daughters to preschool, I walked past the open can and saw something…furry…on top. I peeked in and there was a possum, with that hairless ratty tail, hand to God about the size of a Cocker Spaniel. And because I’m an idiot, I thought it was actually dead. I took the kids to school, and then promptly emailed my husband at work: “you really need to tell me when there’s a dead [expletive] animal in our trash. I don’t know if the trash guys are going to take that.” He helpfully responded with something along the lines of “Hey, Crazy Lady, what the heck are you talking about?”

When the trash truck came, I ran out to warn them that there was a dead animal in our trash. Throwing feminism under the bus, I  was totally I’m hoping to pull a girly “I-can’t-deal-with-this-can-you-please-take-away-the-dead-thing” move with the trash guys. However, that day there was a woman sanitation worker. Because of course. So I couldn’t even attempt the panicked-girly thing, and anyway both the male and female sanitation workers were all like “aw, hellz no.”

After I pick up the kids from preschool, of course my daughter wants to go look at the dead animal. Because really, what could be more fascinating? And in some kind of bizarro version of The Sixth Sense, she whispered, “I see it breathing.”

So now there’s a LIVE WILD ANIMAL in our trash. At that point I performed a flapping dance of panic on our front lawn. Picture a cross between Martin Short and the full-bodied dry heave that was Seinfeld’s “Elaine Dance,” and you’ve got it.

Eventually, I gathered up the courage to bring the can around back because while I didn’t want to deal with it, I also didn’t want to traumatize my dog-walking neighbors because frankly the last thing I need on top of a wild animal in the trash is an elderly guy having a heart attack on my lawn. I tipped the can on its side, ran away flapping and screaming, and hoped the the little bastard would leave. The next morning, we were delighted to find that it had indeed vacated our trash can. So yay.


We finally got rid of it by spraying the entire trash can area with wolf pee, which is really expensive, because presumably you have to pay people a LOT to collect wolf pee.

All this is to say that I’d be totally sympathetic to the people of New Zealand for wanting to get rid of 30 million possums, even if they weren’t an invasive species. Let’s take a look at the many reasons possums are the worst marsupials ever.

  • 13 Reasons Opossums Are the Worst. Marsupials. Ever. 1 of 14
    13 Reasons Opossums Are the Worst. Marsupials. Ever.
    Click the arrows to scroll through for evidence.
  • Possums are deceptive. 2 of 14
    Possums are deceptive.
    Awww, look how cute, right? Yeah, they're cute for like 30 minutes when they're little.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • Cute baby possums grow into this. 3 of 14
    Cute baby possums grow into this.
    If you ever see a possum around your house, this is what you'll see: a nocturnal, hunchbacked giant rat with eyes that steal your soul.

    (Photo Credit: funnyjunk)
  • Go home, Nature, you’re drunk. 4 of 14
    Go home, Nature, you're drunk.
    Possum litters can range from 6 babies to more than 18, according to Florida Gulf Coast University ecology professor Dr. Jerry Jackson. A typical litter is between 6 and 9. In any case, no more than 13 will survive, because a mother opossum has 13 nipples in its pouch: a circle of 12, plus one in the middle. Possums can have such large litters because like many other marsupials, female opossums each have two vaginas and two uteri, and the males have a bifurcated (forked) penis. That's not even the weirdest part of all this: The females even have a third canal, called the median vagina, for birthing. This canal can be permanent or transitory, because GO HOME NATURE, YOU'RE DRUNK.

    (Photo Credit: Fark)
  • Possums look a little too much like Monty Burns. 5 of 14
    Possums look a little too much like Monty Burns.
    Release the hounds.

    (Photo Credits: iStockphoto, FOX)
  • They hate you. 6 of 14
    They hate you.
    Pretty much every photo of a possum will show it baring its many, many teeth.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • They’re hiding in your leaves. 7 of 14
    They're hiding in your leaves.
    Never. Raking. Again.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • They’re hiding in your piano. 8 of 14
    They're hiding in your piano.
    What the hell?

    (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/jkatsis2)
  • They’re hiding in your attic, ceiling, and walls. 9 of 14
    They're hiding in your attic, ceiling, and walls.
    Nuisance wildlife remover David Seerveld removes opossums from walls, ceilings, and attics. Fun fact: unlike, say, a cat, an opossum will poop and pee on the go, wherever it happens to be.

    (Photo Credit: David Seerveld, AAAnimal Control)
  • They’re hiding in your Toyota Celica. 10 of 14
    They're hiding in your Toyota Celica.
    After leaving his car parked for two weeks, the owner found that it wouldn't start. When he opened the hood, he found this possum had built a nest, tearing up several wires in the process.

    (Photo Credit: David Seerveld, AAAnimal Control)
  • They are not intimidated by you, no matter what. 11 of 14
    They are not intimidated by you, no matter what.
    Mr. Seerveld jokingly bares his teeth back at an opossum living in a car engine. The tactic didn't work.

    (Photo Credit: David Seerveld, AAAnimal Control)
  • They are, however, intimidated by plastic owls, apparently. 12 of 14
    They are, however, intimidated by plastic owls, apparently.
    I used to have one of these plastic owls in my garden to try to keep rabbits from eating the vegetables. I guess I should have put it by the trashcan.

    (Photo Credit: David Seerveld, AAAnimal Control)
  • The teeth, my God, the teeth. 13 of 14
    The teeth, my God, the teeth.
    Opossums have 50 teeth, which is more than any other North American mammal, according to the University of Illinois.

    (Photo Credit: David Seerveld, AAAnimal Control)
  • Even Gollum is freaked out by their feet. 14 of 14
    Even Gollum is freaked out by their feet.
    Besides having prehensile tails, opossums have --wait for it -- opposable thumbs.

    (Photo Credit: David Seerveld, AAAnimal Control)

Read more from Joslyn on Babble and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow Joslyn on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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Thank you so much to David Seerveld of AAAnimal Control for allowing me to share many of the photos in this slideshow. His blog about removing creatures is incredibly entertaining and if you live in Orlando you should totally call on him the next time a weird creature shows up in your home.

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