The lengths we go to.

Our new tenant is young, brash, messy, single, and stays out all night. He doesn’t contribute to the household income and we’ve had not a word of thanks. Unwilling to give him free reign of the house, we’ve built an extension. It’s that or evict him.

So we’ve succumbed to the solution of many middle class families in these parts, and built him his own space with a private entrance.

Dave set to and finished the extension in a weekend. He had to build it secure enough that it would keep our presumptuous lodger safe from cats and dogs. Yes, our tenant is a brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), a nocturnal marsupial that has adapted to the comforts of urban life in these parts.

possum box on side of house, Brisbane, Australia

The extension

He’d insinuated his way into the roof space, destroying our comfortable knowledge that it was secure from possum invasions. After I discovered him, snoozing through a torpid afternoon, his tail hanging through the slats of the eaves, Dave set to work. Before we hung the possum’s home, we lined it with dead leaves and left a welcoming gift: half an apple, intended to entice him out of the roof so we could seal it while he was out for the night ballyhooing over roofs and sashaying along powerlines. It worked.

It must be the season. The same weekend last summer’s housemate returned. This one announced its arrival in the evening with a reverberating chirrup from the pond. The dwarf tree frog (Litoria fallax) was back.

I’m delighted. We had two last summer, the first year the vegetation around the pond was grown enough to offer the frogs hiding places. They arrived during the wet, their joyful crick-cri-i-i-ck through the evenings somehow diminishing the unpleasantness of the sodden air. Late in the summer a striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peroni) moved in, too. Shortly after, one of the tree frogs disappeared. Dinner for the bigger one? Then they all disappeared.

dwarf tree frog (Litoria fallax)

The dwarf tree frog is back … with some mates

I’m charmed that the frogs have returned. My heart can’t help but be lifted by their purposeful calling for mates that resonate through the evenings, the tiny throats in their 3 cm long bodies carrying their advertisements well over 30 metres. Our garden is an oasis of local native plants among our streets, wastelands of flourishing exotics that don’t provide the food or shelter that native frogs and skinks, and butterflies and other insects need. I feel rewarded by the presence of the frogs. Perhaps this year they’ll breed.

Dwarf tree frog on plant in pond, Brisbane, Queensland

We commonly see the dwarf tree frogs sitting on stems above the water