Australian Animal Archive

Ringtail Possum.

Pseudocheirus peregrinus (pe'-re-green'-us: "foreign false-hand")

Status: Abundant.

Australian Ringtail Possum

The Common Ringtail Possom is the smallest, but has the widest distribution of all the ringtail species. The Ringtail Possom inhabits the eastern parts and western tip of Australia with some being found in the Bass Straight islands.

The Common Ringtail Possom feeds on eucalypt leaves, buds, blossoms and soft fruits. They have adapted very well to urban living and frequently visit to the surbaban gardens where they spice up their normal diet on exotic fruits and flowers.

The common ringtail possom is an agile climber and often uses its long white tipped tail as a fifth limb or safety device. If the possom happens to slip and fall the tail is strong enough to prevent the possom from fatally falling to the forest floor. The tail is also used to carry grass and leaves to feather its nest.

The possom is a nocternal species and typically sleeps during the day in a leafy nest in a tree hole. If a tree hole is not avaiable the possom will construct a spherical nest of shreded tree bark and leaves in a fork in the tree. Common Ringtail possoms are not agressive and several individuals may share overlapping home ranges with their nests in close proximity.

Early evening is the best time to catch a glimpse of the Common Ringtail Possom as this is when foraging is at its peak. Older infants are usually left in the nest or carried on the mothers back on foraging expiditions. Common Ringtails are very vocal and have a characherstic soft bird-like twitter. Parents will often call wayward young back to their nest if a preditor is nearby.

Breeding takes place from April to November. The female has four teats but usually only rears a maximum of 2 young at any one time. Male Ringtail possoms are dedicated carers who take part in carrying infants around, groom them between feeding times and babysit them when the mother is away from the nest.

Males put in a lot of ground work before breeding. They become attentitive escorts to the female by following her around and gently grooming her before eventually sharing the nest. Family groups are very close knit, mated pairs forage together and snuggle down together with their young during the day.

Body length 30 - 35 cm with small rounded ears. Grey-brown to Black back with white to redish-brown underside.30 - 35 cm tail that is always white tipped.
Forests to woodlands with dense shrubs. Common in urban parks and gardens.
Strictly nocturnal. Rests during th edaylight hours in nests. Frequently associated with family groups until young are weaned. Home range of the male usually overlaps the home range of 2 females.
Breeding occurs between April and November. Twins are a common and somtimes 2 litters are reared per year.
Eucalypt leaves, buds and blossoms, exotic fruits and flowers of urban gardens.
Soft to High pitched twittering sound.

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