Common Ringtail Possum Fact File
The ring tailed possum has a short, round body. Their fur colour is highly variable across their range going from reddish brown to grey and through to black on the back. The face is paler than the rest of their fur. The fur on the belly is white.
On the front feet they have 2 thumbs which makes it easier for them to climb.
The eyes of the ring tailed possum are brown.
Their long tail is prehensile and is used to wrap around branches while they climb through the trees. The tail can also be used for carrying items such as nesting material. It is the same colour as the back along most of its length and ends with a white tip. It measures 30-35cm (11.8-13.8in).
Ring tailed possums measure 30-35cm (11.8-13.8in) long and weigh 700-1,100g (25-39oz).
The ring tailed possum is a herbivore. The majority of their diet is leaves. These are primarily eucalyptus and acacia. This is supplemented with flowers and fruits.
Due to the low nutritional value of leaves the ring tailed possum will eat their faeces to ensure they derive all of the vitamins and
nutrition possible from this.
Wild 6 years
Captive 10 years
Australia is the native home of the common ringtail possum. Here they can be found in the East of the country throughout Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.
They live throughout forests, coastal scrub and temperate forests. With the expansion of human populations they have adjusted to living among urban areas.
Their nest is built inside a tree hollow or they may build a drey. A drey is a circular nest built out of leaves, sticks, twigs and other natural materials.
Breeding takes place from April to November. Young are born very early in development. As a marsupial once they are born they climb up in to the mother’s pouch. Once they are here they attach to the teat and remain here for the next 4 months. While they have four teats they will typically only raise 2 young.
Their eyes open at between 3-4 months old.
Common ring tailed possums are unique among possums in that the male will help care for the young. Once they leave the pouch he will share carrying duties with the mother.
Weaning can take place anywhere between 5 and 8 months of age. The young may remain with their parents until the next infants are born.
Sexual maturity is achieved at 1 year old for males and can be achieved slightly earlier for females.
The ring tailed possum is primarily nocturnal.
They are arboreal and spend most of their time in the trees. Their feet are adapted for climbing well.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators of the ring tailed possum include powerful owls and dingoes. They also come under threat from introduced predators such as dogs, foxes and cats.
They face an increasing threat from deforestation and vehicle strikes.
Unlike the closely related brushtail possum they have not benefitted from urbanization as they do not regularly live in the roof of humans houses.
The ‘peregrinus’ section of their scientific name means ‘foreign false hand.’
Used under license
Copyright. The Animal Facts
Andrew Mercer (www.baldwhiteguy.co.nz) / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
Slater, P. and Parish, S., 2016. First Field Guide To Australian Mammals. 1st ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press.
Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK
Jackson, S., 2003. Biology And Management Of Captive Australian Mammals. 1st ed. Collingwood, Vic.:
Our Wildlife Fact Sheet - Common Ringtail Possum. 1st ed. [ebook] Victoria: Enivornment, land, water and planning Victoria, pp.1-2. Available at: <https://www.wildlife.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/114036/Common-Ringtail-Possum.pdf> [Accessed 27 May 2020].
Australian Reptile Park - Wildlife Park Sydney & Animal Encounters Australia. 2020. Ringtail Possum Diet, Habitat & Reproduction - Sydney. [online] Available at: <https://reptilepark.com.au/animals/mammals/ringtail-possum/> [Accessed 27 May 2020].
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