Brushtail PossumPossum life
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Reproduction and life history
Contact for further information
The Common Brushtail Possum is the best known of all our possums because it has adapted to living in our cities and suburbs. As the suburbs overtake natural areas, animals are forced to live in close quarters with people. While we are privileged to be able to observe our fascinating native animals at such close quarters, living with wildlife, however, has its own special problems.
Each year, the Wildlife Management Branch of the Department of Primary Industries and Water (DPIW) receives many calls for advice to solve possum problems. The following notes provide practical information to assist the house and landowner without harming the animal.
Remember that Brushtail possums are protected by law and cannot be taken, trapped or killed except by a permit (please phone the Wildlife Management Branch on (03) 6233 6556).
In Tasmania, the Brushtail possum has 4 main colour variations: silver grey, brown, black and gold. The very dark possums inhabit denser, wetter areas than the lighter colour variations.
They are an arboreal (meaning tree-living) animal so are well adapted for climbing with their sharp claws; a hand-like back foot for grasping and a strong flexible (prehensile) tail for curling around branches. In Tasmania, possums also spend much time on the ground searching for food and travelling through their home range.
They communicate by sound and scent. Screeches and guttural growls are used often, particularly in the breeding season, to ward off intruding possums near the nest or home range. Sound can also be used when a predator threatens them.
Brushtail possums rub secretions (from glands under their chin; on the chest and at the base of the tail) to mark home ranges and define occupancy of a home site. If a home range is vacant or undefended because the occupant has died, been removed or has become too old and sick to put up a defence then another possum will claim it.
Most births occur during late autumn with a smaller birth season in spring.
For the first 80 days of pouch life the unfurred joey is permanently attached to the teat; by 120 days the young joey begins to leave the pouch. The young animal spends several months coming and going from the pouch and riding on its mothers back until it is fully weaned and independent.
Brushtail possums have been known to live for 10 to 12 years in the wild.
For more information, see Living with Brushtail Possums.
Contact: Wildlife Management BranchWildlife Management Branch
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
134 Macquarie Street, GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7001
Phone: 03 6233 2520
Fax: 03 6233 3477
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