Preston’s recovery a tail of survival

On the mend: Preston and his foster mother, who are about to be released into the wild. Photo: Cam Findlay.

On the mend: Preston and his foster mother, who are about to be released into the wild. Photo: Cam Findlay.

Five months on, and the scars left by the Waroona/Yarloop bushfires are still deep.

But there are some good stories to come out of the tragedy.

Preston, the infant ringtail possum rescued from the side of the road by fauna relocator Alison Dixon not long after the fires, has made a full recovery at the Ringtail Rescue Centre in Bouvard, and is on the verge of being released into the wild.

“When he arrived, he weighed around 6 grams,” Ringtail Rescue Centre’s Suzanna Harders said.

“Now he weighs ten times that.”

Preston’s story is also something of a milestone, as he was raised from infancy by a foster mother, something which is a very rare occurence with the particular species of possum.

“As far as we know, this kind of thing hasn’t really been done with ringtails,” Ms Harders said.

Preston’s foster mother originally rejected what the rescue centre believe was her biological offspring, which has been raised and weaned separately.

But Preston was a match for her form the start. 

“When we first brought Preston in, she started acting really aggressively, which is pretty against her nature,” Ms Harders said.

“We brought her up to the cage, and she just grabbed her and started licking her. We’ve kept an eye on them since, but they’ve just been inseparable.”

Preston and the other two possums will be naturalised to the surrounding bushland over the next few weeks, using large outdoor cages which will eventually allow them to travel in and out of the care of Ms Harders.

With World Environment Day just passed, both Ms Harders and Ms Dixon hope Preston’s success will raise awareness of the shy animals living in our backyards.

“They’re not exactly like the possums you have climbing through your roof; they’re shy, and they usually keep to themselves in peppermint trees,” Ms Harder said.

“It’s probably the only endangered mammal in the area that an individual can help personally, as they can be found in close association with humans.”

Ringtail Rescue can be contacted at ringtailpossum14@gmail.com.

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