One man's squirrel is another man's brush possum...

One of Zooillogix's readers, Tweet Gainsborough-Waring (awesome name btw), recently sent me these photos of ring tailed possums (the red ones) and brush possums (the grey ones), which she snapped on her way out to pizza in Brisbane, Australia. She pointed out that these furry little guys are fairly common in her neck of the woods, but to me they are exotic, so I'm sharing them.


So what's common in your neighborhood that clueless tourists might find fascinating? Growing up in New England, it was these adorable little guys:

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In Japan, so I understand, the following fauna are quite common:
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Send along your photos or comments [zooillogix AT] on ordinary critters that might not be so ordinary if you live on another continent and I'll post them. Read on to learn more about the possums featured above.

The following info is also from Tweet:

The ring tailed possum is a native marsupial of Australia which is almost exclusively tree-dwelling, in forests, woodlands, rain forests,dense scrub and suburban gardens. It makes spherical nests (dreys) in tree hollows, undergrowth or tree forks. Mainly leaf-eaters but may eat flowers and fruits. Has adapted to living in urban environments, often foraging in gardens. Extremely agile they are sometimes seen scurrying along the riverside fencing en route to a rubbish bin. Their long tail acts as as a balancing weight.

Brush tailed possums live in gum trees, their nests usually hidden away in the forks of branches. They have become pretty urbanised and are know to gallop noisily across the roof usually soon after dark and just before dawn.Its not advisable to catch a possum as you will probably have no ornaments left and may find yourself covered in scratches. Its better to clear a path for it to find its own way out.

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A few years back I went on a [stupid] team-building exercise with some colleagues from work, many of whom are from India and China.

We were at a nature preserve, and spent some time in a wildlife observation blind. I remember one of the guys from China was fairly blase about the chickadees, the cardinals, the bluejay, and even a big ol' racoon, but he was completely blown away by the chipmunk. He was still talking about it the next day.

I understand slow-worms are considered pretty ho-hum in Great Britain and Europe (correct me if I'm wrong), but I think they're freaky.

What weirds me out is when a commonplace animal is in a local zoo. Case in point: the Los Angeles Zoo used to have a cage of coyotes. The L.A. Zoo is in Griffith Park, which has tons of coyotes, many of which come into the city at night.

It's almost impossible to drive through the Silver Lake neighborhood of L.A. without smelling skunk at some point. I also see opossums and raccoons fairly often.

It weirds me out that hedgehogs are commonplace in Europe. Also, I saw a red fox in the middle of London once. In the U.S. they're much, much harder to spot (I've never seen a live one stateside). But, I guess it makes sense -- they don't have opossums, coyotes, raccoons, or skunks in London.

Most people don't even know they exist. They are secretive and you only really see them if you are looking for them or into your gardening.

By Robert Jaques (not verified) on 03 Nov 2008 #permalink

Do not mess with the red-eyed demon squirrel!

The Arizona-Sonoro Desert Museum in Tucson is famous for featuring all of the state's varied wildlife. A few years ago, when I visited I sat down for a rest near the aviary, and was treated to watching local families come up and exclaim excitedly about the rare bird on display.

It was an American robin. Which, if you're used to roadrunners and desert wrens and whatnot, must seem terribly exotic and exciting, like snow at Christmas and other legendary events.

By Theodosia (not verified) on 04 Nov 2008 #permalink

A few years ago, I was on safari in Botswana. Our excellent guide was telling us that his previous safari group had some Canadians in it and he had asked them about their local animals. He was unfamiliar with North American fauna and admitted he was a bit suspicious about what these guys had told him. He was right to be suspicious. They described a raccoon as being about the size of a warthog!

By Mrs. Grackle (not verified) on 04 Nov 2008 #permalink

When I was little we used to go to Okefenokee, in South Georgia. The really neat thing was that while it was out in the middle of nowhere, you'd get tourists from ALL over the country, and even the world.

The interesting thing about Okefenokee is that the alligators just roam around free--they're kept well-fed I guess, but if you are stupid and tired of life you can just walk up to the 13-foot alligator and poke him for a fun adventure in slow death. No fence, no glass, just air and the animal's tendency towards laziness keep the tourists safe. I watched an Asian tourist try to get his son to stand right next to a six-footer to get a picture, and the child AND wife were both crying with fear, so he relented, and took a photo from far away.

Of course I would crap my pants with excitement if I ever saw a wild hedgehog, so who am I to judge?

I get excited seeing Red Squirrels in Europe as the Grey Squirrels have almost completely taken over the British Isles.

Here in the UAE there are lots of things but most are nocturnal or on the verge of extinction so the only place to see them is in the Zoo.

I came home one night to see four large hedgehogs all face-to-face together in the middle of my front lawn. When I got closer to see what was going on, they all ran off in different directions. Very Gary Larson-esque. I had a bit of an uneasy night. They were obviously plotting something; I never found out what, so I guess it didn't involve me.

Here in NZ we're not so happy to see brush-tailed possums (Trichosurus vulpecula)around. We spend many millions every year trying to control them, in a country which evolved without any browsing mammals - or any mammals at all apart from bats. Besides defoliating some native trees to the point of death, they've also been caught on video snacking on endangered invertebrates, birds' eggs and nestlings.

I know some people from Australia who were extremely excited about a 'ground mammal' they had seen while driving around. Turned out to be the rare and elusive SQUIRREL!

I remember being in Australia and trying to find out what these guys were. I think our bus guide told us they were possums, but we didn't believe him since they look so much more....lemur-esque than those in the states.

Zelty, yes, those are possums. The Virginia Opossum, and the various South American Opossums, such as the aquatic Yapok, aren't very close relatives of ours.

get excited seeing Red Squirrels in Europe as the Grey Squirrels have almost completely taken over the British Isles.

Here in the UAE there are lots of things but most are nocturnal or on the verge of extinction so the only place to see them is in the Zoo.