DYOR Decides: Cat Vs Possum
Ever since they were first brought to the country in the early 1800’s cats have been the natural enemy of possums, and dribblers around the nation have debated at length who the superior species is when it comes to one on one combat. As the debate has recently heated up on the back of some close encounters involving Louis (official cat of the podcast), I thought I would investigate this to determine once and for all who would win in a fight.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be dealing with Brushtail and Ringtail possums, the most common types found in suburban Australia. With an average weight of 3kg and 860grams respectively, most cats already have the upper hand at between 3.6 and 4.5kg fully grown.
While the possums do have the home ground advantage, this actually works against them, as they haven’t evolved the skills and instincts to avoid the alien cats like they have for native species. For ringtail possums, the death rate from cat attack (25%) is double the rate of all other causes, and the stats are similarly unfortunate for the Brushtail possum.
The news gets worse for Possums, with cats possessing a secret weapon that can win them the war even after the battle is over. Using their needle-sharp teeth, a cats bite will release a bacteria that acts as a poison in a possums bloodstream. Within around eight hours, the possum starts experiencing paralysis, and if left untreated will inevitably die.
Double click to see a possum fight recorded outside my bedroom window
According to the Sydney manager of WIRES Mandy Page, cats are the undisputed winners of this fight. She said, heartbreakingly, “Cats are let out at night and absolutely wreak havoc; they’ll kill the adult ringtail possums and leave the babies as orphans.” It’s not just possums that cats go after, with an average domestic cat thought to kill around 8 birds, 16 mammals and 8 reptiles per year.
Yes, despite their seemingly cute exterior, cats are merciless, venomous, and torturous killers. Rather than slaying these animals for food, cats have a variety of non-culinary reasons to destroy our native ecosystems, like territory, boredom, years of evolutionary instinct, and to please their owners. This has resulted in cats killing around 1.7 billion native animals each year.
Bigger possums in less populated areas may have a better chance against a house-cat outside of its home turf, but for the large majority of city-dwelling possums, they’ve got about as much chance of beating a cat as Parramatta does of winning a prem before the sun explodes.
So to all the cat owners out there, keep them locked in and keep an eye on them. You never know who their next victim could be.
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