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Call for volunteer caretakers for Maatsuyker Island

09/12/2016

The Parks and Wildlife Service is seeking volunteer caretakers for the coming two years on the remote and spectacular Maatsuyker Island in Tasmania's south-west.More

Update on work to restore access to flood-affected sites

23/11/2016

The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is continuing repair work to restore access to sites affected by the June flood event.More

Maria Island ferry service will unlock tourism opportunities

22/11/2016

The Tasmanian Government has secured a new, year-round regular passenger ferry service to Maria Island National Park, which will help the island fulfil its potential to be one of the state's best tourism attractions.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)