Australian Possum Species

There are a few different Australian possum species.

There are 27 species of possums in Australia. The group also includes gliders and cuscuses.

They are all good tree climbers, some like gliders even glide from tree to tree. They have forward-opening pouches, and long tails that help them balance. They eat in trees and nest in tree hollows and sometimes (particularly Brushtail Possums) in roof cavities. They are territorial animals.

Australian Possum Species: Common Brushtail Possum
Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecular) has adapted to different habitats like eastern eucalypt forests, tropical rainforests of northern Australia, and the karri forests of South-western WA. It also lives in urban areas and it is common that possums live in roofs of peoples' houses, where where they are noisy and often considered pests.
Common Brushtail Possum, (Trichosurus Vulpecula), Pebbly Beach, New South Wales, Australia
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Australian Possum Food
The Common Brushtails are grey or brownish up to 500mm long animals with lighter cream-coloured belly, large ears and - as the name says - a brushy tail. They are omnivores – they eat flowers, fruit, seeds, leaves, but also insects, eggs and sometimes even small birds.

Australian Possum Babies: Brushtail
In southern Australia they breed in autumn and spring, but in northern Australia where it is warmer, they breed all year around. Female gives birth to one young, which stays in the pouch first and once it gets too big, is carried around on its mother’s back until it’s independent. Females mature at one year, males at two. Brushtails live up to 11 years, and their species status is secure. They are successful animals and after they were intorduced to New Zealand from Australia, they become the worst pest over there.

Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus Vulpecula), Pebbly Beach, Marramarang National Park, Australia
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Where to Look for Australian Possum Tracks
You can see Common Brushtail possums everywhere. Look up the trees in city parks where they come to ground at night time. Because they often live in house roofs you can see them on buildings and in people’s yards. Good national parks to see Australian possums are Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales, Wilsons Promontory in Victoria and Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair in Tasmania. All the other possums are much less common and you would be lucky to see them in the wild unless you go spotlighting during the night time.

Ringtail Possums and Greater Glider (Pseudocheiridae)

This group includes seven species of ringtail possums and the Greater Glider. They are all forest dwellers and nest in dreys, which are often in the fork of a tree and lined with grass, sticks and leaves. They are leaf eaters, and have a specialised digestive system to be able to eat eucaypt leaves (According to a reader, appartently they love Lemon Scented Gum). They include Common Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus), Western Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis), Herbert River Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus herbertensis), Daintree River Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus cinereus), Rock Ringtail Possum (Petropseudes dahli), Green Ringtail Possum (Pseudchirops archeri), Lemuroid Ringtail Possum (Hemibelideus lemuroides) and Greater Glider (Petauroides volans).

A Painted Ringtail Possum in New Guinea's Foja Mountains
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Pygmy Possums (Burramyidae)
There are five species of pygmy possums in Australia, which all live in the southern and eastern parts of the country. They eat nectar and insects, and are known to torpor (in some species even hibernate) during winter due to cold weather and shortage of food. They include Eastern Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus nanus), Western Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus concinnus), Mountain Pygmy Possum (Burramys parvus), Long-tailed Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus caudatus) and Little Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus lepidus).

A Long-Tailed Pygmy-Possum from New Guinea's Foja Mountains
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Honey Possum (Tarsipedidae)
Honey Possum (Tarsipes rostratus) is the only member in its family and it is only found in South-western Wester Australia. As the name says, it feeds on nectar and pollen, and its Latin name points out that like tarsiers, it climbs without using claws (it hasn't got any). They are social, nomadic animals and can enter torpor when food is scarce.

An Australian Honey Possum Feeds on a Mottlecah Eucalyptus
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Cuscuses and Some Possums (Phalangeridae)
The members of this group are primarily herbivores, but some species may occasionally eat small animals. They include Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), Short-eared Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus caninus), Mountain Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus cunninghami), Scaly-tailed Possum (Wyulda squamicaudata), Common Spotted Cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus) and Southern Common Cuscus (Phalanger intercastellanus).

Spotted Cuscus (Phalanger Maculatus) in Tree, Irian Jaya, New Guinea, Indonesia
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Gliders and Some Possums (Petauridae)
This group includes four species of gliders and two species of possums. They all have a dark stripe along their back, and the gliders have membranes which help them glide. They are vocal animals, and most species live in groups although some are solitary. They include Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps), Mahogany Glider (Petaurus gracilis)
Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis), Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis), Striped Possum (Dactylopsila trivirgata) and Leadbeater's Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri).

Sugar Glider, Petaurus Breviceps, a Marsupial Mammal from Australia
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Feathertail Glider (Acrobatidae)
Feathertail glider (Acrobatus pygmaeus is the only species in its family. It has got a distinctive, feather like tail. It is a small glider, lives in loose groups, eats both insects and pollen, and is found in forests of eastern Australia.

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