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Tassie the toast of Australian tourism, again

28/02/2017

For the third year running, Tasmania has dominated the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, winning more medals than any other state.More

Visitors returning to flood-affected sites

28/02/2017

Visitors are returning in droves to some of Tasmania's best natural tourism sites after devastating floods caused extensive damage last year.More

Wielangta Road bridge construction under way

20/02/2017

Work has begun this week on the replacement of four bridges on Wielangta Road as part of a $1.2 million project to upgrade the road.More

Common Ringtail Possum, Pseudocheirus peregrinus

Ring tail possum Common ringtail possum
(Photograph by Steve Johnson)

Like all ringtail possums, the common ringtail possum has a strongly prehensile tail which acts as a fifth limb, and which is carried tightly coiled when not being used. It can be distinguished from the brushtail by the light covering of fur on its tail, as well as the white tail tip.

Distribution and habitat

The common ringtail occurs along the entire length of the eastern seaboard of mainland Australia and in the south west corner of western Australia. It is widespread throughout Tasmania, where it occurs in a variety of vegetation types, especially eucalypt forests and areas of tall, dense tea-tree.

Diet

Ringtail possum footprint

The ringtail feeds on leaves, as well as flowers. The ringtail is well adapted to a diet of eucalypt leaves, apparently being capable of detoxifying the tannins and phenols in the animal's caecum (a part of the gut). The low metabolic rate of the species is believed to compensate for the relatively low energy yield of its diet.

It is strictly nocturnal and, unlike the brushtail possum, is strongly aboreal, spending little time on the ground. Spherical nests about the size of a football, called dreys, are constructed from bark and grass among the dense canopy of the understorey. The ringtail is unusual among possums in being an active nest builder.

Breeding

Females give birth between April and November, usually to two young which remain in the pouch for about four months. After this time the young often ride on the mothers back.

ringtail possum1ringtail possum2

Two colour phases of the common ringtail

(Photographs by Peter Tonelli)