IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

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Unusually for mammals, Leadbeater's possum has a female-dominated society. Pairs are monogamous, but the female vigorously defends her 0.01 – 0.03 km² territory against other mature females, including her own daughters (5). Within each territory a single nest is made of loosely matted bark inside a hollow mountain ash tree (6). The nest can contain up to eight individuals, consisting of the reproducing pair, their offspring and unrelated sexually mature males. Nest mates share in mutual grooming and recognise one another through smell (6). The dominant female mates throughout the year giving birth in any month except January and February (5) to one or two offspring (6). Pregnancy lasts no longer than 20 days, and following birth, the underdeveloped offspring crawl to the pouch for protection and milk. They remain there for 85 days until developed enough to venture out of the nest to forage. Weaning takes place at 10 months for female offspring and 15 months for male offspring. Full maturity is reached at around age two, but many females will not survive to this age as they are not welcome in the home ranges of other mature females. Males out-number females three-to-one as a result (5). This nocturnal marsupial has a fairly sedentary lifestyle. It eats insects and spiders from behind the bark of three species of eucalyptus (5), as well as cutting notches into the bark of Acacia with its teeth causing the tree to release gum, which it eats (6). As Leadbeater's possum lives in a temperate area, food availability is seasonal and the diet is cricket-based during the winter (5). The young may be preyed upon by owls (5), but survivors can live to at least 7.5 years (2).


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Source: ARKive

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