Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus Vulpecula)
The common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula, from the Greek for “furry tailed” and the Latin for “little fox”, previously in the genus Phalangista) is a nocturnal, semi-arboreal marsupial of the family Phalangeridae, it is native to Australia, and the second largest of the possums.
Like most possums, the common brushtail possum is nocturnal. It is mainly a folivore, but has been known to eat small mammals such as rats. In most Australian habitats, leaves of eucalyptus are a significant part of the diet but rarely the sole item eaten. The tail is prehensile and naked on its lower underside. There are four colour variations: silver-grey, brown, black, and gold.
It is the Australian marsupial most often seen by city-dwellers, as it is one of few that thrive in cities, as well as a wide range of natural and human-modified environments. Around human habitations, Common Brushtails are inventive and determined foragers with a liking for fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and kitchen raids.
In New Zealand, where it was introduced in the 19th century, it is a major agricultural and conservation pest.
The common brushtail possum has large and pointed ears. It has a bushy tail (hence its name) that is adapted to grasping branches, prehensile at the end with a hairless ventral patch. Its forefeet have sharp claws and the first toe of each hind foot is clawless but has a strong grasp. The possum grooms itself with the third and fourth toes which are fused together. The common brushtail possum has a thick and woolly pelage that ranges in colour depending on the subspecies. Colour patterns tend to be silver-gray, brown, black, red or cream. The ventral areas are typically lighter and the tail is usually brown or black. The muzzle is marked with dark patches. The common brushtail possum has a head and body length of 32–58 cm with a tail length of 24–40 cm. It weighs 1.2-4.5 kg. Males are generally larger than females. In addition, the coat of the male tends to be reddish at the shoulders. As with most marsupials, the female brushtail possum has a forward-opening, well-developed pouch. The common brushtail possum’s chest has a scent gland that emits a reddish secretion which stains that fur around it. It marks its territory with these secretions.
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