Possums of Australia

There are lots of different possums in Australia.

Possums are furry.

Possums are active at night and sleep in the day.

They are plant eaters.

They live in forests and gardens.

Possums are marsupials,so the females have pouches in which the young develop after they are born. Possums are nocturnal, which means they are active at night. In the day, they sleep in tree hollows.

Leadbeater's possum, once thought to be extinct





There are many different possums in Australia. Here are some notes about a few of them:

 Species & Description



 Striped possum

Black and white striped, about 26 cm long with bushy tail 35cm long.

Highland rainforests northeastern Queensland & New Guinea  Eat beetles and grubs: tap tree with their claws, then gnaw and claw wood to expose them. They have an extra-long finger on each hand to pick out the grubs from the wood. Shy, usually alone. May shriek and growl loudly.No other Australian mammal has markings like this.

More information here:

 Leadbeater's possum

Faunal emblem of the state of Victoria

Approx 16 cm long, tail 15-18 cm. Tail wider at the tip. Grey or brown, dark stripe from face down back.

Mountain ash forests of Victorian central highlands, about 1000 sq km. A small number of lowland Leadbeater's possums are found in Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve, east of Melbourne, 4 kms long and 120 m wide. Timber production area. Suitable nesting hollows only found in old growth trees.

 Lives in small family groups of about 8, all sharing nest. They pair for life. Nests are hollows in trees about 10 metres above ground, filled width shredded bark. Agile leaps through the trees.Feeds on insects, spiders, nectar and sap. Female carries 1-2 young in her pouch for 3 months. Not sighted after 1901 & thought to be extinct till found again in 1961.

'Black Saturday' bushfire in 2009 demolished half their habitat and their population. One bushfire could make them extinct. Captive breeding program now established at Healesville Sanctuary to save this tiny possum and be able to release them into the wild.
Watch a video of scientists checking some at Yellingbo, and a veterinary examination of a male chosen for the captive breeding program.


More information here:

 Green ringtail possum

Thick tail grips branches rather like an extra hand (prehensile). Thick brown fur has a greenish tinge. Small white patch under each eye.

 Northern Queensland, in highland rainforest

Unlike other possums, they do not nest in daytime, but sleep sitting curled up on a branch. Also is active sometimes in day. They are active high up in the treetops. Eat only leaves. Breeds in June/July, usually gives birth to just one young. After it leaves the pouch, the young is carried on mother's back for some time.


More information here:

 Common brushtail possum

Pointed faces, thick furry tails which are not prehensile.

 Southeastern Australia, wooded areas, including suburban parks and gardens  Males are territorial and fight other males entering their territory. Breed in autumn and spring, baby born 18 days after mating. Female has two nipples in pouch but gives birth to single young. Young stays 4-5 months in pouch, then another 1-2 months riding on mother's back.

More information here:

Sugar Glider

Measures 30 cm, nose to tip of tail. Weighs less than 150 grams. Membrane for gliding stretches between front and back legs, on both sides. Membrane called patagium.

 Along eastern and northern parts of Australia. Eucalypt woodlands.

 Feed on gum and sap of eucalypt trees. They chisel grooves in the bark of the trees with their sharp teeth, then lap the liquid. Also eat fruit, nectar, pollen, insects and spiders. Live in pairs or small groups. Animal stretches its patagium, and glides abokut 50 metres. It controls flight by varying the curve of the membrane on one side or the other. About 3 metres from its target, it brings back legs to the body, swoops upward, and lands on 4 feet. Female carries 2 young in her pouch for 2-3 months. They leave the nest at 4-5 months.

Not endangered, but its relative the Mahogany Glider is very rare, believed to be extinct for 100 years until rediscovered.

More information here:

Acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
Possums (2007). [Online], Available: www.kidcyber.com.au

See also Pygmy-possums

Back to Animals

May 2007