Possums

Ringtail Possum
Ringtail Possum
(Pseudocheirus peregrinus)

The Ringtail Possum is well known to many Sydney residents. It has adapted well to living in close association with humans and is often seen in suburban gardens at night.

About the size of a cat, the Ringtail Possum is grey with white patches behind the eyes and on the belly, and orange-brown tinges on the tail and limbs. Its long prehensile tail has a white tip and it uses it like a fifth limb to climb and jump between connecting branches, fences and power lines. The structure of its forefeet, with a gap between the second and third fingers (known as 'syndactyly'), allows the possum to hold onto branches securely.

The Ringtail Possum is nocturnal and eats a variety of leaves of both native and introduced plants, as well as flowers and fruits. When the mother is feeding, the male carries the young on his back and cares for them. This is the only species of possum currently known where the male helps to care for the young.

During the day, the Ringtail Possum sleeps in its spherical nest or 'drey' made from grass and shredded bark. It builds the drey in a tree hole, tree fork or dense vegetation, and several individuals may share the one nest.


Brushtail Possum
Brushtail Possum
(Trichosurus vulpecula)

Brushtail Possums are generally silver-grey in colour, with a pale to white coloured underside and a dark brown to black brushy tail. They grow to about the same size as a domestic cat. Males are generally larger than females. The number of possums in an area, and the size of their home range, is dependent on the availability of food and den sites.

Many Brushtail Possums have adapted to the urban environment where there is plenty of food, in the form of ornamental garden species, fruit trees and food scraps. The Brushtail Possum plays an important role within ecosystems. The possums diet is herbivorous, consisting of leaves, flowers and fruit. Mistletoe is a favoured food source of many arboreal marsupials, including the Brushtail Possum.

Tree hollows are the preferred den sites of the Brushtail Possum, but they will use other dark and confined sites such as dense vegetation, hollow logs, burrows or rock crevices. They will also used man-made structures such as chimneys, sheds and roof spaces. Brushtail Possums communicate with deep coughs and sharp hisses, particularly in the breeding season.

 

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