The possum that eats 20,000 tonnes a night

Photoshopped image credit: Technomage

Unless this conservation group has discovered a new breed of possum weighing in at nearly 286 tonnes apiece, they are as rabid as the possums they are pursuing with their toxic 1080 drops. Quote.

“1080 has been a game changer for protecting the trees,” Project Crimson CEO Adele Fitzpatrick told Newshub. 

“Possums devastate our native trees when left to their own devices.

“They’re just their favourite delicacy and a possum can go through 20,000 tonnes of foliage in a night. That’s equal to around 450 fully laden logging trucks every night.” End of quote.


Whoever bothered to work out that 20,000 tonnes translates into 450 loaded logging trucks should have taken another five seconds to think about the original exaggeration!

Possums are about the size of a small housecat and the Common Brushtail Possum, our adopted variety, weighs in between 1.2-4.5 kg.

Let’s assume the largest male possum weighs in at the top end at 4.5 kg. In 8-10 hours a night could he chew through 20,000 tonnes, or 450 fully laden logging trucks, of foliage? Of course not! 20,000 tonnes is 4.4 million times his body weight.

WildaboutNZ suggests 20 possums might eat their way through 6 kg of foliage a night.  If that’s true, the average possum eats 300 grams of foliage a night or roughly 7% of its body weight.

Based on eating 7% of its body weight a night, a possum eating 20,000 tonnes of foliage would have to weigh in at 285.7 tonnes. Tane mahuta would have no show at supporting one of those furry monsters on its large and ancient limbs.

Um… is this highly inflated statistic a mere slip of the tongue, or is Project Crimson deliberately deceiving the public? Could this be a conservationist, all guns blazing response to the anti-1080 public and protesters as well as addressing media damage done by shonky operators who simply dumped their 1080 quotas in Stewart Island bush and waterways last year? Either way, it’s not a good look for conservationists.

Imported from their native Australia in 1837 to create a New Zealand fur industry, possums have thrived. Some fur and skins are processed and their lean meat can also be eaten.

In my opinion, possums are an under-utilized resource, and instead of spending tens of millions on 1080 drops we should be looking at creating revenue from the over-abundant furry little critters.  Possum wellington, anyone?