A concerned member of public called WIRES when a resident Ringtail possum was observed coming down from a tree, jump onto the ground and then went under a bushy area in the front yard. This happened at 9.00am in the morning, broad daylight and obviously very unusual behaviour for a nocturnal and arboreal animal that rarely descends to the ground.
WIRES volunteer Jeanette responded to the call and after examining the possum found that its feet were covered in an oily substance.
The possum was taken to Alstonville vet clinic where it was rehydrated and its feet treated for what turned out to be an oil based pesticide used for spraying shrubs. The possum had chemical burns to its feet, but having been treated early it did not blister and the possum was released back to its home 3 nights later.
This Ringtail possum was lucky, it was seen jumping to the ground, the person that observed it knew this was unusual behaviour and called for advice straight away. Had it not been brought into care it would likely have ingested the pesticide ( trying to lick it off its feet) causing internal harm to the animal, as well as chemical burns to its feet had it been left on for any length of time.
Sadly trees are often sprayed to eliminate insects considered by us as pests, but these insects are a vital food source for many of our native animals such as Ringtail possums, Sugar and Squirrel gliders, Microbats and many species of birds.
Thank you to the member of public for calling WIRES straight away and to Alstonville vet for treating this Ringtail possum.
Images by Jeanette Dundas