"little" bundle of fur is an Australian Brushtail Possum named Jaws. He received
his name because of his apparent penchant for human flesh. In actual fact I named him when
he came to me after a series of misadventures which left him completely traumatized and
mistrusting of humans. His mother had been killed by a car when he was a tiny joey and he
was rescued by someone who already had an adult female Brushtail possum. He was put into
an outside cage with her and she proceeded to bite him so badly that his tail became
gangrenous. When he was handed over to Wildcare his lovely bushy tail had become so badly
infected that it had to be amputated. By the time I received him he was convinced that all
humans were going to hurt him and he used the only defenses he had - teeth and claws - to
avoid being handled.
As Jaws had a
number of other problems in addition to the loss of his tail he lived in a large cage in
the vicinity of my kitchen and I let him out nightly for exercise and "lessons"
in climbing. Back in January 1997 during the Australia Day weekend, we had a gathering of
21st Century forum hosts at my home (I was Assistant Forum Manager with that Forum) and
Jaws was enjoying his evening exercise (at 1.30am) with an audience of 6 hosts - 3 of whom
were males. Jaws decided to investigate the possibilities of teasing these brave strong
adults and I was privileged to see my kitchen benches adorned by the quivering wrecks of
four of them who were very careful to keep their feet well and truly clear of this
gorgeous bundle of fur which was patrolling around the kitchen floor with the rolling gait
which is typical of a "brushie". Jaws became famous amongst the hosts of the
21st Century. He did tame down well, however there were several hosts who refused to be
convinced of this.
The loss of his
tail did not seem to be hindering his ability to climb, as he spent a great deal of his
time when outside his cage, perched on top of my bathroom door having shinnied up the door
On 14 August Jaws
was transferred to one of our other members because I could no longer give him the
exercise he needed. Within the first twenty four hours he had distinguished himself by
managing to open the door of the laundry (which was his new "bedroom") and
breaking a planter, destroying an ornamental tree and feasting on the leaves of a
passionfruit vine in the Conservatory of his new home.
Two days later he
disappeared. As the laundry door was locked there was no possibility that he had managed
to release himself again and he was eventually found curled up, sound asleep inside the
washing machine amongst some damp newly washed laundry!
Jaws has now been
transferred to his release site, but not before he created a lasting impression on the
flora in Di and Jim's conservatory. When he started to devour the insect
eating plants and took to leaving his "calling card" on the lily pads in the
pond (we don't know how he managed to do this without also taking a swim), it was decided
that he was almost ready for release. He's now living in an outside enclosure
because the weather is starting to warm up and at last report was doing extremely
well. Everyone agrees that this is one very special brushtail possum, not only has
he overcome the handicap of the loss of his tail but he has a remarkable sense of humour
and he is undoubtedly one of the real "characters" of the possum world.
FINAL ENTRY FOR
Jaws has been
successfully released!!! It was a long hard battle at the beginning, but this is one
of Wildcare's real success stories. He was released in a very safe
environment with a lot of other possums in the area and plenty of nest boxes to choose
from. Despite his handicap, once Jaws got used to the idea of having no tail
he learned to compensate and can navigate his way round trees with no problem at all at
tremendous speed. There is no reason why he can't live a full and contented life
doing what possums are intended to do in the wild. He was a very special little
fellow and I'll never forget him.