Possums are an essential part of our ecosystem and wildlife. Living in parts of Northern and Southern Americas, 70 arboreal species are native to Australia, Indonesian islands of New Guinea, and Sulawesi. Therefore, today you will discover about Types of possums. We will also cover the types of possums found in Australia exclusively.
Possums or opossums live in different parts of, Northern, Southern, and Central America. The Virginian possums also live in areas of Canada and, some species are inhabitants in other parts of the western hemisphere too. Their habitat generally includes wooded areas with trees. Based on their appearance, location, and habitat, types of possums are widely classified into the following eight types:
1. Ringtail Possum (Pseudocherius Peregrinus)
Common Ringtail comes from its Latin name Pseudocherius Peregrinus which means false hand pilgrim. They are capable of, surviving in various habitats because they feed on different items like fruits, herbs, and flowers other than meat and insects. They love staying on trees with their families. Their nests are known as Dreys, and they are quite social in nature.
- Green-tail possums are popularly known as, Striped Ringtail because their fur is soft green. They live in North Queensland, and their tails are the same size as their body which is 36cm. They love eating figs and leaves and have patches below their eyes and ears.
- Herbert River Ringtail are black or pale brown in colour with a bare pointed face and abdominal area covered with thick light-colored fur. In Northern Queensland, people call them Mongan.
- Lemuroid Ringtail is found in Queensland and can weigh up to 0.8 kg to 1.3 kgs (800 to 1300 grams). They are also known as lemur-like possums and are strictly herbivores.
- Cinereus Ringtail are found in wet tropical areas towards North-Eastern Queensland and along the road of Mt. Lewis sanctuary. A dark stripe on the middle of their head is their distinctive feature, and their snout is known as the Roman nose.
- Rock Ringtail, also known as, rock-haunting possum mostly live in rock escapement in Western and Northern Australia. Their tail is small and weighs up to 1.25 kgs to 2 kgs (1250 to 2000 grams).
- Western Ringtail, commonly found in Western Australia, has a bushy and long tail of about 30 cm that is strongly prehensile.
2. Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)
Common brushtail, native to Australia, belongs to the Phalangeridae family. Their Greek name Trichosurus Vulpecular means the furry-tailed little fox. These types of possums can simply adapt to any habitat and are usually found in the deeper regions of tropical rainforest and on the eucalyptus trees in Northern Australia. They are the second-largest possum found in Australia. Their color depends on their habitat, but mostly they are silver, grey, gold, and black in colour.
- Mountain Brushtails, also known as short-eared possums, are found in rainforests and open areas with trees. They live in the hollows of trees and are native to different areas of Queensland, Southern Victoria, and Lamington National Park.
- Northern Brushtails are smaller than common brushtails. Living in western and northern Australia, an adult is only 35-45 cm long while its tail is 30 cm long. Males are reddish-grey in colour while females are silver-grey furred.
- Coppery Brushtail is found in areas of Atherton Tablelands because they love rainforests. They are 400-500 mm in length, and their females are large than males. Odd, isn’t it? Their average weight lies between 1.2 kgs to 1.8 kgs (1200-1800 grams). The fur is thick and dark brown on top with a light-brown abdomen. (See Can Possums be Pets?)
3. Honey Possum (Tarsipes rostratus)
Honey Possum, one among various types of possums, is mostly found in the South-west and Western parts of Australia. Their scientific name means they have no claws. They feed on nectar and pollen along with other possums. But if there is a shortage of food, then they choose to go into hibernation. (See What is the Difference between Possum and Raccoon?)
4. Striped Possum (Dactylopsila Trivirgata)
They got their name because of the black and white stripes running vertically on their body, and the white stripe forms a Y shape on their head. They are known for their speed and their unusual walking style in which they walk horizontally with a rowing action.
5. Leadbeater’s Possum (Gymnobelideus Leadbeater)
They are known as fairy possums, but they almost went extinct in 1939. Thus, these types of possum are currently listed among endangered species. They are only 33 cm long and live on the tallest trees in rain forests. (See What are Baby Platypus Called?)
6. Scaly Tailed possum (Wyulda Squamicaudata)
One of only three types of possums that take shelter in rocks and hence, mostly found among sandstones and woodlands in Kimberly as well as northern and Western Australia. Their tail is hairless with a scaly appearance. They have relatively short ears and muzzle. Their main source of nutrition is fruits. (See Top 8 World’s Smallest Animals)
7. Pygmy Possum (Burramyidae)
They are broadly classified into five categories:
- Little Pygmy, the world’s smallest possum is 7.5 cm long and weighs only 10 grams. This species is found only in the Murray-Darring basin, South Australia. It has a short snout, big eyes, hairless ears, tailed furred at the bottom, and long whiskers.
- Long Tailed Pygmy one among types of possums got its name because its tail is twice the length of the body. Mostly found in rainforests and in winters, they go into hibernation and appear dead the entire day. Instead, they wake up at night.
- Mountain Pygmy is usually 5-12 cm long and weighs only 45 grams. Their coat is grey, but their belly is white. They are omnivores and have excellent prehensile tails.
- Eastern Pygmy are found in small numbers in Australia. Overall, 8-11 cm long, their tail is the same size as their body making it an essential and helpful feature.
- Western Pygmy are also known as the southwestern possum. They are relatively larger among pygmy possums with an adult almost 7 cm long. The fur is bright-colored on top and white at the bottom.
8. Gliding Possum (Petauridae)
They are also called marsupials and referred to as flying phalangers, while their common name is gliders.
- Greater Gliders, the largest among the Australian’s gliders are mostly sighted on the Great Dividing Range. They are 40 cm long with a tail longer than their body. They are silent-natured and creamy grey or black colored.
- Feathertail Glider also lists among different types of possums. They are the fastest, and the smallest gliding possums weighing only 10-15 grams. Their 8 cm long feather-like tail is their unique characteristic that is of the same length as their body.
- Yellow-bellied Gliders are also known as fluffy gliders because of their thick fur. Found in north Queensland., they lick the weeping sap of red mahogany trees. Their loud shrieks can be heard up to a hundred meters.
- Squirrel Gliders are found in the woodlands and forests of eastern Australia.
- Mahogany Gliders is last among the types of Possums in Australia. They live in woodland viz eucalyptus and grass trees, tea tree swamps near Cardwell, North Queensland.
- Sugar Gliders are widely spread across New Guinea and Australia. They are 18 cm long and make yapping sounds like small dogs. (See 7 Sugar Glider Habitat Facts)