Biodiversity

The Otago Peninsula is home to a variety of plants and animals, some of which are rarely found elsewhere. This part of our website shows a few Peninsula inhabitants and the places where they live.

Tall forest

Kanuka

Shrubland

Rocky outcrops

Possums are having an impact on many of these plants and animals.

Possums eat mainly leaves and by taking the tender new shoots reduce plant growth. We know that possums have their particular favourites, such as fuchsia, pate, mistletoe and tree ferns, Possums continue to browse these species instead of less palatable plants. As a consequence, the composition of the forest or shrubland gradually changes.

As well as leaves, possums also eat flowers and berries. When fuchsia flowers are eaten there is no nectar for tui and bellbirds. Possums eat the fruits of totara, so depriving birds of another food source.

Possums are not purely vegetarian. They eat lizards, insects such as moths and stick insects, birds’ eggs and nestlings. They will kill some adult birds and have even been observed pushing an adult pigeon off the nest.