Family find mummified possum… or is it a rat?
Mon, 02 Jul 2012 12:00p.m.
By Jessica Rowe
A Canterbury family have made a grisly discovery in a ditch at the end of their garden – a mummified possum.
Tai Tapu resident Carrie Broomhall, wife of former All Black Sam Broomhall, says she found her dog playing on the lawn with an animal carcass that at first appeared to be a giant rat.
“I went over just to take it off him, because I thought that's kind of disgusting, whatever it is,” she says.
“Taking a closer look at it, I thought it was a cat, so was a bit petrified he got one of the neighbours cats.”
The Broomhall family took the 73cm carcass to a vet, who initially identified it as being a rat. Experts disagreed however, saying that the largest rat in New Zealand is only 50cm long.
Canterbury Museum vertebrate expert Paul Scofield then declared him a mummified Australian brush-tail possum. He says that the possum must have died somewhere dry, causing him to take on the appearance of a rat.
“This poor little fellow died somewhere dry and become mummified,” he says. “And in that process of mummification he's lost most of his fur, and the skin and the muscles have become quite desiccated, which have given his skull a very ratty appearance I’m afraid.”
Ms Broomhall says the news is a relief for the family, who were worried they had an entire family of giant rats living in their backyard.
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