Sunday, August 4, 2013

Battle of the Opossums

Virginia OpossumSOURCE: http://www.wildliferescuerehab.com/all-about-opossums.html
Okay, folks, it’s time to vote. Which possum is cuter, the American one (Virginia Opossum), above, or the Australia/New Zealand one (Australian Brushtail Opossum), below? When I taught in New Zealand, all my students told me how hideous their possum was. They hate this creature, which is actually native to Australia (and protected in some places there) because it has decimated the New Zealand native bird population, including the Kiwi, their national bird and namesake.   
Australian Brushtail Opossum
SOURCE: http://www.southern-edge.com/possum/

In New Zealand, they hunt and kill the opossum. Then they make the pelts into expensive things like fur-lined caps, and pillows, or blend the fur with merino wool and knit it into fabulous sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves and hats. When I was there a few weeks ago, I bought a lot of knitwear in a merino-possum-silk blend. It is beautiful, warm, and very lightweight. 

Here is a closeup of their fur:



And a photo of their pelts:


Want to know more? The Atlantic magazine has an informative and amusing account of New Zealand’s war on the possum here.

I told everyone that I had seen photos of the Australian/New Zealand possum, and it was WAY cuter than ours. I think it is just that they hate it so much that they think it is ugly. What do you think? Cast your vote; leave a comment!

5 comments:

  1. I have to agree with you.... ours is not very cute or handsome. The Aussie one has some possibilities.... Although I not sure house pet is one of them.

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  2. Aussie is cuter but we don't like them in our roof space or eating our veggies - we have even had them eater a chilli plant!!! Overseas visitor love seeing them walking along the telephone lines.

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  3. That photo is actually very cute but hearing them outside your tent in the dark is another matter! They make the most awful noises. I might be prejudiced though - I am a kiwi and yes, - we don't like them at all! they spread T.B. as well as eating natives so bad on both fronts.

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  4. I've had some very personal 1st hand encounters with American oppossums. The kiwi variety is much cuter.

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  5. ....they both are ugly and I'd say it's a
    toss-up between the two... didn't know they
    had such pretty pelts though... wonder why
    no one skins them here that I've heard of !?
    Gail

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