Trichosurus vulpecula, common brushtail possum. By Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH | Shutterstock.com
Trichosurus vulpecula, common brushtail possum. By Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH | Shutterstock.com

About brushtail possums.

The common brushtail possum is Australia’s most widespread mammal.


Like the rest of marsupials, their size is very small at birth (1.5 cm). To be able to develop, they spend 4-5 months in their mothers pouch feeding on her milk.


The lower underside of the tip of these animals’ tail is prehensile and has no hair. They use it to grasp the branches of the trees where they live.


Possums scent-mark their territory. They have a gland on the chest that emits a red substance to mark the trees within their area. They also use urine and several sounds for the same purpose.


Possums are solitary animals that only join other members of their species during the mating season.


They are nocturnal animals. They sleep during the day and search for food at night.


Possums usually make their “nests” high up in the canopies of the trees, in tree hollows, even though they can resort to other animals’ dens, roofs or other places, if necessary.


Female possums reach their sexual maturity when they are one year old. However, males do it when they are two.


These animals spend 16% of their time eating, 30% moving from one place to the other, 44% sleeping and 10% cleaning themselves.


This one is the second largest existing possum species and the most seen by people, due to the large number of specimens and their proximity to places inhabited by humans.


Possums emit a range of very characteristic sounds, and their hissing and growling stand out among them.


Humans introduced this kind of possums to New Zealand and they quickly became a pest that destroyed some plants and brought about significant changes in the island’s ecosystem.

Wild common brushtail possum in its natural environment in the Sunken Gardens of Umpherston Sinkhole in Mount Gambier, Australia. By Ines Porada | Shutterstock.com
Wild common brushtail possum in its natural environment in the Sunken Gardens of Umpherston Sinkhole in Mount Gambier, Australia. By Ines Porada | Shutterstock.com
COMMON NAMECONSERVATION STATUS
Common brushtail possumLeast concern
SCIENTIFIC NAMESIZE
Trichosurus vulpecula32 – 58 cm (12,5 – 23 in)+ 24 – 40 cm (9,5 – 16 in) tail
FAMILYWEIGHT
Phalangeridae1,2 – 4,5 kg (2,6 – 10 lb)
ORDERLIFESPAN
DiprotodontiaUp to 13 years in the wild
CLASSGESTATION PERIOD
Mammalia16-18 days
 POPULATION DIET
This species is common but declining.Several kinds of leaves depending on their surroundings (mainly eucalyptus), flowers, sprouts, seeds, insects, eggs and bird chicks or other small invertebrates.
HABITATRANGE
Several kinds of forest, generally, especially eucalyptus.Australia, Tasmania and other islands of Oceania. It was introduced to New Zealand and it is now widespread.

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