Police Free Possum After It Held Woman 'Hostage' in Her Home

A woman in New Zealand recently had a frightening encounter with a possum that reportedly "held her hostage."

While possums are generally known to be pests, the marsupials appear to carry an especially negative reputation in New Zealand. According to the island nation's Department of Conservation (DOC), the "common brushtail possum...was first introduced to New Zealand from Australia in 1837 to establish a fur trade."

Their populations have since spread through much of the country and pose significant threats to native wildlife. "They occur in high numbers and their own predators, such as feral cats, do not have much effect on controlling possum population size," noted the agency.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand went so far as to call possums "the country's most damaging animal pest" due to the ongoing "havoc" they "[wreak]...on native forests."

"Not only do possums destroy forests," added the online resource, "they also infect cattle with bovine tuberculosis, threatening the country's valuable dairy industry."

Possums
A woman in New Zealand was recently held "hostage" by a juvenile possum. A possum and her baby after being discovered in Los Angeles, 2019. VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images

According to the New Zealand Herald, the unnamed woman, located in the South Island city of Dunedin, called local police after the possum appeared at her front door.

Whenever the woman would try to leave her house and approach her car, the possum would charge at her, reported Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen to the news outlet. In response, the woman would flee and retreat back into her home.

Police reportedly arrived at the scene at around 11 p.m. on Sunday night. As they approached the residence, they found the possum in question—a juvenile that, upon the authorities' arrival, climbed up one of the officer's legs.

The creature was captured and released in the wild "to prevent further citizen harassment," reported Dinnessen, per the Guardian. Police believe that the juvenile possum had either been recently separated from its mother or was an escaped pet.

The Guardian also spoke to veterinarian and animal behavior expert Dr. Rachael Stratton about the incident. She believed that the possum's aggressive behavior was likely fear-motivated, rather than aggressive. "The typical thing for most wild animals would be to run away," said Dr. Stratton. "Unless, as it's a juvenile, it is perhaps still learning how to deal with threats."

The possum isn't the only animal to have caused recent incidents of chaos. On Saturday, a video posted on TikTok showed a bear casually strolling into a Lake Tahoe-area 7-Eleven and using its hand sanitizer machine. By Sunday, the clip had been viewed 5 million times.