IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Biology

The common brushtail possum is largely nocturnal and arboreal, and is an agile climber (2) (3) (4), although it may also travel along the ground (3) (6). The diet varies depending on the location, but typically includes leaves, flowers, shoots, fruits and seeds, as well as insects, birds' eggs and occasionally other small animals, such as young birds. The common brushtail possum is mainly solitary, maintaining spacing between individuals using a mixture of scent-marking, vocalisations and agonistic encounters. One of the most vocal groups of marsupials, brushtail possums communicate with a range of calls, including clicks, grunts, hisses, alarm chatters, guttural coughs, and screeching (2) (3) (4). Breeding may occur at any time of year, particularly in northern Australia, but usually peaks in spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) in other areas. In some areas, females may give birth in both seasons. The female common brushtail possum usually gives birth to a single young, after a gestation period of 16 to 18 days (2) (3) (4). Measuring just 1.5 centimetres at birth, and weighing a mere 2 grams (5), the tiny newborn climbs, unaided, through the female's fur and into the pouch, where it attaches to one of two teats, remaining inside the pouch for a further four to five months. The young common brushtail possum is then left in the den or rides on the female's back until around seven to nine months old (2) (3). Females begin to breed at around a year old, and males by the end of the second year (2) (3) (4), with young females usually establishing a home range adjacent to that of the adult female, while young males disperse further afield (3) (7). Lifespan may be up to 13 years in the wild (2) (3) (4).

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Source: ARKive

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