Gatton Star journalist Nathan Greaves deployed a trail camera to catch the critter chowing down on plants in his parents’ yard.
Gatton Star journalist Nathan Greaves deployed a trail camera to catch the critter chowing down on plants in his parents’ yard.

OPINION: Candid camera catches pot plant pillager

OUR regions are home to a diverse assortment of unique and intriguing animals, many of which get far closer to our homes than we realise.

Many of the most interesting critters also happen to be nocturnal, making them harder to spot.

When my mother told me she was having problems with a mystery animal chowing down on one of the pot plants in her yard at night, I had my suspicions as to what kind of critter might be responsible – maybe a small wallaby or pademelon was squeezing through the dog fence, or a hungry bandicoot was straying into the yard.

The plant in question happened to be right next to the cockatiel cage, so we set to work figuring out what was roaming around it at night.

READ MORE: How to become a naturalist in your own backyard

We were able to access a trail camera available from the Somerset Regional Council office, which I set up near the bird cage on our rural property near Mount Hallen.

On the first night, leaves were found to have been chewed off the poor plant, but the camera captured nothing of interest.

After poring through the instructions and discovering the infra-red struggles to get power in cold weather, I increased the sensitivity of the sensor, hoping that would be enough to catch the culprit.

A cheeky possum was caught retreating from the plants.
A cheeky possum was caught retreating from the plants.

The next morning, checking the memory card revealed the offender responsible for the mutilation of my mother’s precious plants: a pesky, peckish possum.

The sneaky marsupial was caught scaling a tree trunk next to the cage, and climbing back down less than an hour later.

READ MORE: Why we need to create tree hollows now

Photos from the next night revealed the possum climbing around on top of the bird cage as well, which the cockatiels probably didn’t appreciate.

The hungry possum came sneaking back less than two hours later.
The hungry possum came sneaking back less than two hours later.

With one mystery solved, I decided to relocate the camera to the small dam on the property, which still has a little water in it, with the hopes of capturing some images of the various creatures that would likely make use of one of the very few water sources in the area.

Although there were fresh prints in the mud at the shore indicating wallabies were making use of the dam, the camera failed to capture anything of interest, except for an unidentifiable bird that flew right past the camera at one point.

The camera later caught a bird – possibly a tawny frogmouth or owl – flying past it.
The camera later caught a bird – possibly a tawny frogmouth or owl – flying past it.

For those who are looking for their own glimpse into what sort of critters are crawling around their area, trail cameras are available to Land for Wildlife members, and can be borrowed for up to a month – or longer, if no one else is waiting for them – for a $50 deposit.

Based on my experience, I’d suggest waiting for warmer months.

More information on the Land for Wildlife program can be found here: https://www.somerset.qld.gov.au/our-services/land-for-wildlife