Possum Scientific Classification
Scientific name
Possum Physical Characteristics
Brown, Grey, Black, White, Tan
5-8 years
Top speed
15 mph
0.1-14.5kg (0.22-32lbs)
Possum Distribition

The possum is just one of one of the most usual marsupials in Australia.

Possums are nighttime animals that can browse high trees with unusual dexterity and aplomb. Often living alongside with humans, possums can be seen or perhaps listened to scampering about on roof coverings or decks during the night. Words possums and opossums are occasionally utilized reciprocally, yet they really indicate various points. Opossum refers especially to the American opossums. Possum, on the various other hand, describes the Australian range with the scientific name of Phalangeriformes They come from various orders yet are both instances of marsupials.

3 Possum Realities

  • The marsupial is an old family tree of animals that divided off from placental animals over 100 million years earlier Modern possums, kangaroos, and koalas most likely progressed from an usual forefather that lived some 20 to 30 million years earlier.
  • Males and females are referred to as jacks and jills, specifically, while a team is called a passel.
  • In Australia and several of the neighboring islands, the spread of communities and cities has actually made experiences far more usual. Often taken into consideration to be a bug, possums like to conceal in dark locations such as attic rooms, sheds, and garages, creating damages and devastation to yards, ranches, woodlands, and tools. They stand for virtually no threat to humans by themselves, yet they can spread out conditions by puncturing the skin with their sharp claws. If you come across one in or near your home, after that it is a great concept to prevent get in touch with and allow specialists eliminate them in a gentle way.

Possum Scientific Name

The scientific name of the possum is Phalangeriformes, which stems from the Greek word phalanger, implying spider’s internet, of the merged figures on the back feet. Possums are split even more right into a number of various households and category. The family of Phalangeridae has most of possums, consisting of the well- recognized usual brush- tail possums and the cuscus. Various other variants consist of the pygmy possums, the ring- tail possums, the trioks, and the gliders. There are some 70 various species of possums spread out throughout the Pacific area. They come from the marsupial order of Diprotodontia in addition to kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, and wombats.

These qualities are typically shared amongst all possums, yet it still shows a big quantity of variant, specifically in relation to their dimension. The tiniest species is the Tasmanian pygmy possum, which gauges much less than 3 inches long and considers much less than a pencil. The biggest species of possum are both bear cuscus, which considers as much as 22 extra pounds, or regarding the dimension of a tamed cat. Possums differ in various other physical qualities too. The brush- tail possum has an extremely fuzzy tail with a nude bottom. The ring- tail possum, on the various other hand, has a multi- tinted tail.

Maybe one of the most one-of-a-kind adjustment of all possums is the glider. As the name recommends, these species have actually progressed huge skin flaps in between their arm or legs which allow them to slide with the air. These flaps are extremely similar to the flying squirrels (which is really a rodent and a placental animal, not a marsupial). This is an instance of convergent development: 2 different animals advancing similar qualities for the precise very same factors. A lot of the gliders inhabit the genus of Petaurus, yet the plume- tail glider, which has actually serrated toe pads for climbing up smooth bark, inhabits its very own genus, properly called Acrobates.

Possum on a branch
Lisa Hagan/Shutterstock.com

Possum Actions

Possums are animals that differ as much in their actions as they perform in their physical qualities. The brush- tail possums are nighttime and singular animals that just integrate for the reproducing period. As one of the most earthbound and earthbound of all possums, they can live near human residences and yards. The ring- tail possums, on the various other hand, are extremely social animals that occupy public nests referred to as dreys. These teams typically contain the male and female reproduction set and the children. The abovementioned gliders (consisting of the well- recognized squirrel glider and sugar glider) have flaps in between their arm or legs to slide in between tree branches and the ground listed below. One species has actually been observed to take a trip as high as 65 feet simultaneously.

Possums are relatively accommodating, omnivorous animals that just act strongly when endangered. A few of their protective actions consists of surrendering, growling, birthing their teeth, or producing a poor smell. When they aren’t searching, possums invest a lot of the moment brushing or resting. Possums interact with each various other (and with prospective risks) with both audio and odor. Their collection of alarm system telephone calls, mating telephone calls, and area telephone calls consist of screeches, hisses, clicks, grunts, and wails. They likewise have scent glands on their breast to mark region. Being marsupials, they are extremely various from rodents.

Possum Environment

The possum is belonging to the woodlands of Australia and the bordering islands of Tasmania, New Guinea, Celebes, and the Solomons. Their most usual environments consist of jungles, eucalypt woodlands, forests, seaside bush lands, and also human areas. The only point they require is a reasonably thick network of trees in which to stay for defense and food.

Possum Diet

Possums have actually progressed to prefer an omnivore diet that consists of insects, eggs, and a range of various plant issue, several of which is harmful to various other animals. If provided the chance, they will certainly likewise scavenge on food left over by various other animals and individuals. The precise nutritional structure differs based upon the accessibility of food from one area to one more, so they can best be referred to as opportunistic. Some possum species have a bigger cecum (a bag in the intestinal tracts) to ferment and absorb the extremely fiber- based foods of their diet. The molar teeth have sharp pointers to aid them eat with the difficult plant issue.

Possum Predators and Hazards

Possums are generally preyed upon by snakes, cats, dogs, foxes, owls, tiger quolls, and various other huge predators Tiger quolls and snakes are native to the island to Australia, yet several various other species were presented by European inhabitants and have actually driven numbers down. Possums have actually been pursued by humans for their hair, yet the largest hazard to their presence is the devastation environment from both fires and human task. As was shown by the harmful nature of the 2019 to 2020 bushfires, these occurrences are considerably intensified by environment adjustment.

Possum Reproduction, Infants, and Life-span

Reproduction differs from monogamy (a solitary companion) to polygamy (numerous companions) and virtually whatever in between. Just the mountain brush- tail possum has the capability to transform its breeding system on an impulse based upon just how much food is offered in the setting. Males court females with their loud telephone calls and might sire a number of teams of young throughout the whole breeding period.

Once both copulates, the female generates 1 or 2 (seldom 3) feasible children, generally around the center months of the year. Some species create as much as 10 children, yet a lot of the infants promptly recede, leaving just a few behind. To make best use of the possibilities of survival, the mommy discovers a comfy concealing location in tree hollows or deserted bird nests to lug her young. Just a few species really create nests from square one.

Just like several various other kinds of animals, the mommy is in charge of most of parenting tasks, while the daddies add virtually absolutely nothing to their survival. The usual ring- tail possum is the only species in which the male likewise takes a popular function in looking after the young.

The gestation duration is typically fairly brief. Amongst the brush- tail possums, it lasts just for 16 or 17 days. The young joeys, as they’re called, creep from the birth canal right into the mommy’s bag for the objective of feeding upon her milk. At this phase, they are still blind and deaf and just determine a couple of centimeters huge. The joeys are so depending on the mommy that their lips will really fuse closed around the nipple area to stop it from shedding get in touch with for the very first a number of weeks of life. Also as it comes to be much more independent, the joey will certainly remain within the mommy’s bag for defense and safety throughout the following couple of months. Once it ultimately comes to be as well huge for the bag, it will certainly occasionally move to the mommy’s back.

The possum typically gets to sex-related maturation within the very first year or 2 of life. Numerous succumb to predators and conditions prior to they can pass away of all-natural reasons, so the life-span of some species is typically no greater than 10 or 15 years in the wild. They can live also much longer in bondage where it’s risk-free from the majority of risks.

Baby possum
rthoma/Shutterstock. com

Possum Population

Population numbers are hard to approximate, yet the conservation status can differ fairly dramatically by species. According to the IUCN Red Listing, which is an independent company that tracks the conservation status of several animals, possums can vary in between least concern and seriously endangered The brush- tail possum, which prevails throughout the seaside areas of Australia, has actually incorporated so well right into human culture that it is an usual view. On the various other end of the range, the western ring- tail possum and the fairy possum are both seriously endangered Numerous species are presently managed defense by the federal government of Australia. It is unlawful to quest, catch, or eliminate several the possums for any type of factor. However, it is approximated that a quarter of Australia’s 27 possum species are presently endangered with termination.

Possums in the Zoo

The San Diego Zoo, which is just one of minority zoos in the USA that has Australian possums of any type of kind, has a lengthy background with the eastern usual ring- tail possums. The initial 3 participants (a male and 2 females) were given the zoo back in 1984. After a number of years with no possums, the zoo got much more from the Healesville Haven in Victoria, Australia, yet they are not constantly on display.


  1. National Geographic, Available here: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/group/possums-gliders/
  2. Britannica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/animal/phalanger
  3. San Diego (1970) https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/ringtail-possum Jump to top

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