Garland from the Gutter

April 2009

What would you think if you found this dangling from your roof gutter?

This strange fragment of nature was found at a Greenbank home. Insect eggs were suggested. Or perhaps it was wrapped meals left by a spider?

Answer

Investigating further, there are no outer shells so they're not eggs.

And each pellet was found to be comprised of plant fibre, so it wasn't from a spider either.

In fact, the whole series of beads is enclosed by a tube of thin tissue.

This is the lower intestine of a plant-feeding mammal, almost certainly a ringtail possum. An unknown predator has eaten a ringtail and then decorated the house guttering with this garland from the unfortunate possum. While many predators may relish the bones, gristle and meat of their prey, they often shun the intestine.

A predatory bird is the suspected house decorator. A few different day-active birds might leave an uneaten intestine but one species is suspected above all others…crows are well-known for raiding ringtail possum nests during the daytime.

This macabre souvenir was kindly donated by its finders and is displayed in the Inquiry Centre drawers.

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.