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Possum

 

Yelverton Brook has several types of Possums in the Conservation Sanctaury.
 
Brush Tailed Possum - they are nocturnal and usually spends the day sleeping in a hollow limb. They have a pointed snout, pink nose, long whiskers and large ears. The tail is thick and bushy. They can range in size from 1 - 4 kgs.
They are found on both side of Australia, they feed in the wild on leaves, supplemented on fruits, buds and grasses. Their diet varies alot depending upon the dominant vegetation. They have strong teeth and often use their front paws to hold their food while eating. They prefer to nest in a tree hole but will make a nest under suitable shelter on the ground. It is solitary, except for breeding and males and females seem to have their own territories. They also mark their territory with secretions from glands on its chest and rump and vigorously defending it against intruders, first with hisses and barks and then if necessary with tooth and claw.
The female has two teats but only carries one young. Breeding usually occurs throughout the year but peaks in spring and autumn. A gestation period is 17 days and the new baby weighs only 20-22 grams but then it will crawl unaided to the forward opening pouch, where it attaches itself to a teat. The young possum spends about 5 months in the pouch and a further 2 months clinging to it's mother's back as she moves about. Young possums become independant by 7 months and are fully grown by 10 months. Females usually breed for the first time when they are 12 months old.

 


 


 

 

  

Head & body : 35-55 cm
Tail : 25-40cm


Ring Tailed Possum - are about the size of a cat.
They have a very long, white tipped tail which curls into a ring. They use their tail as another hand when they swing from branch to branch.
They are usually grey in colour with white bellies and have big brown eyes. They spend most of their time curled up asleep, coming out at night to feed on leaves, flowers and fruit. They usually live in a nest, similar to a bird made of twigs and leaves. Our local residents make a drey (nest) of the Peppermint Tree leaves. They have a pouch for their young and are a marsupial. The babies drink the mothers milk and when to big for the pouch (4-5 months) cling tightly to their mothers back until maturing.
Yelverton Brook has been using a soft release program with the local FAWNA carers and has re-introduced 3 x pairs back onto the property.
Latest is Oct - Bernie a male that came into care whilst very young and now is a mature male. The soft release takes about 7 days.
 



Head and body : 30-35cm
Tail : 30-35cm

Western Pygmy Possum - size - head & body length - 8.5mm, Tail length - 83.5mm and Weight : 14g
They slightly smaller than their Eastern States cousins, they are an active climber among shrubs using the prehensile tail as a fifth limb. It also descends to the ground, it feeds mainly on insects. Insects are caught in the mouth but held with the forepaws while being eaten.
It also sleeps during the day, usually in a spherical nest of leaves in a small tree-hole or similar cavity, sometimes using disuued birds nests. They are a small nocturnal animal and live in dense shrubby woodland and mallee areas. Sleep is usually associated with torpor the body temperature falling almost to that of the surroundings. Breeding takes place throughout the year. The female has six teats and six young may be raised. These complete their development in the nest after vacating the pouch. Two sometimes three litters may be raised in a year.

They are prone to predation by domestic and introduced animals. It's prehensile tail is used as a fifth limb to help it clamber around.The tail is finely scaled and furless almost to the body.
 


Body & Head : 7-11cm
Tail : 7-10cm

Honey Possum is a small mammal which feeds on nectar and pollen by means of a long brush-tipped tongue. The teeth have been reduced to a pair of pointed lower incisors and a variable number of peg-like rudiments in the upper and lower jaws, equivalent to the canies and grinding teeth of other diprotodonts. Being completely dependant upon nectar and pollen, it is restricted to areas of mixed vegetation in which some plants are in flower at any time of the year, a requirement which is met by the species of the family of Proteaceace in the heaths of south-western Australia.
The Honey Possum climbs the dense vegetation, gripping branches and twigs with it's long prehensile tail and the pads at the ends of it's fingers and toes (it's claws being reduced to nail-like structures like those of a tarsier). It frequently moves around on the ground and is readily caught in pit-traps. It sleeps by day, often communally, in any available shelter, including abandoned bird nests. It often becomes torpid.
Males may be longer than females, but females may be heavier. Breeding takes place throughout the year but least in mid-summer. The female has four teats in a narrow-directed pouch but usually rears only two or three young. At birth these weigh 3-6 milligrams and are less than 2 millimeters long - the smallest known young mammals. The young are with fur when they vacate the pouch and may ride on the mothers back for a few days before being left in the nest for the remaining period of suckling. Several litters may be reared in a year.


 

Head and body : 4 - 10 cm

Tail: 5 - 11 cm

Possum Repellant - If possums are a problem because they damage flowers, vegetables, shrubs or fruit trees, a simple but effective mixture can be sprayed on the plants to repel the possums. The basic ingredient of the mixture, quassia chips can be purchased from chemists in 100gram packets. To prepare the mixture-

Gently boil the chips for two hours in 9-10 litres of water. Strain to remove the chips, then add up more water to make the mixture up to 18-20 litres. The mixture should be sprayed over the plants affected by the possums. The mixture has a foul taste which discourages further comsumption of the plants by possums, but is totally harmless to both possums and plants.

Other ideas are rig up a light in the roof cavity and leave on for 3 days & nights. purchase 8 blocks of camphor or 1-2 boxes of Naphthalene flakes and spread through the ceiling. Do not use both as they react chemically. Garlic & cloves may deter possums.

Make friends with possums- When you remove a possum from your property it is very likely that another will move in and take its place. However, beacause possums are territorial, if you already have a possum in residence it is unlikely that others will attempt to establish residence rights in the same tettority. Therefore you can reduce your possums problems by making friends with one possum, which will then discourage other possums.

Baricade all entry points into your roof and supply the possum with suitable shelter, such as a large box, in a safe place where it will not be distrubed by dogs or people. Feeding it regually with soft fresh fruit will minimise its attacks on your garden.

Yelverton Brook supplies you with special feed for the visiting possums, usually the Brushtails and occassionally the Ringtails. Look for the tails to tell the difference - Bushtails live up to their name and Ringtails are pink at the end and are hairless. Brushtails do not mind moving around on the ground. You may wish to put out some fruit for them in the ceramic bowls provided, please do not feed them bread as this binds up their gut. Beware they do have sharp teeth!

Brushtails weigh up to 3kg, Ringtails weigh up to 1kg when mature.


Western Ringtailed Possum - Albert
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