Would you like to have a tail to carry
things with? The Common Ring-tailed Possum has one! They have
a long white tipped prehensile tail which can be used carrying
nesting materials as well as for gripping branches when
climbing. It also has as two thumbs on each front foot which
helps them to grip in the trees. The soles of the feet and the
underside of the tail is hairless which also helps them to
grip on the branches. The short fur is grey-brown on the back
with white underneath. When immature, the Common Ring-tailed
Possum is reddish brown. They weigh about 700-1100g and its
head and body are approximately 30-35cm. Its tail is also
30-35 cm long.
The Ring-tailed Possum is a very social
animal. It has a soft, high pitched twittering call. It is a
nocturnal animal, and has very good night vision.
Breeding and Lifecycle
Ringtailed Possums breeding season takes place from April
to November. The female has four teats but normally only rears
two young When born, the joeys are hairless and about the the
size of a jellybean, and leave the pouch when they are about 4
months of age, travelling on the mother’s back. The father
also carries young on his back.The young are fully weaned
after 6 months of age. The male-female bond usually carries
from one breeding season to the next, although the male may
mate and associate with a second female in a different part of
its home range after the first. Family groups tend to nest and
forage together until the young disperse. Breeding seasons
vary in different parts of Australia
Ringtail Possums live in family groups
which usually contain a male, one or two females and the young
from the previous year. These young do not become adult until
they are eighteen months old when they leave the group to form
their own families.
Habitat & Distribution
The Ring-tailed possum can be found in rainforests,
shrubby woodlands, eucalypt forests, coastal shrub and
suburban gardens. They are a tree dwelling animal which has
adapted its behaviour to live in close association with humans
and their gardens and make use of a wide range of introduced
flowers and fruit. They can also live in the roofs of houses.
The ringtail may build as many as five nests amongst dense
undergrowth in its home range, and will move readily from one
to another taking its young with it. They will sleep in these
nests during the day. The nests, called ‘drays’, are built on
tree hollows and dense vegetation. They are usually shaped
like a ball and about 30cm in diameter. The male and female
build the nest together, carrying grass, leaves and shredded
bark curled up in their tails.
The Common Ringtail possum is primarily a leaf eater and
is one of only a few marsupials able to feed on eucalypt
leaves. Ringtail possums also eat a wide variety of flowers
(mainly eucalypt), fruits, nectar and shoots.
With the increase of numbers in urban areas, Ring-tailed
Possums have adapted to eating more exotic foods including
rose buds and fruit from fruit trees.
Threats to Survival
In the treetops the ringtail possum is safer from
predators, however, while on the ground they are prey to
dingoes, goannas, quolls and foxes. Ringtail possums are also
under threat due to increased human activity in their native
habitat. Power lines, cars and domestic animals account for
many possum deaths.
While possums are protected fauna in NSW, people still trap
them without a licence. This can lead to the possum being
As possums are increasing in urban areas, many people end
up sharing a roof with one or more possums. If you have a
possum in your roof, you should provide an alternative home
for your possum. This can be done by building a possum-house
and placing it near your roof. A bright light in the roof for
three days and nights will also help to deter the possums.
When you are sure that your possum is not in the roof, block
the entrance using chicken wire or timber.