Possums and Gliders

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This collection of marsupials includes 26 animals from six different Families. All are arboreal and have adaptations for this lifestyle.

Features: agile climbers, mostly nocturnal

Diet: members of each Family eat some of the following:
insects under tree bark, tree sap, nectar, honeydew, pollen, fruits, acacia gum, small animals, leaves, bird eggs


Family Acrobatidae

Feathertail Glider

Diet: eats insects, pollen, nectar

  • tail used as a rudder in flight, for grasping on landing
  • large serrated toe pads to cling to smooth surfaces
  • smallest gliding mammal

Number of species: 1


Family Tarsipes

Honey Possum

  • eats pollen, nectar
  • tail used for grasping

Number of species: 1


Family Phalangeridae

  • Brush-tailed and scaly-tailed possums and cuscuses belong to this Family.
  • tail has a friction pad of naked skin on the underside for gripping branches forward-facing pouch

Diet: leaves, fruit, flowers

Within this Family there are three groupings :

Brush-tailed Possums

  • feed on the ground as well as in trees
  • have a scent gland on the chest for marking

Number of species: 2

Scaly-tailed Possum

  • found in the Kimberley region of WA

Number of species: 1

Cuscuses

  • found in rainforest of north QLD
  • also found in New Guinea

Number of species: 2


Family Petauridae

Gliding Possums

  • thin membrane of loose, fur-covered skin between wrist and ankle
  • eat insects under bark of trees, tree sap, honeydew, acacia gum, nectar, pollen, fruit

Number of species: 6


Family Pseudocheiridae

  • tail coils around branches and has a friction pad of naked skin on the underside at the tip
  • active at night, during daytime they rest in nests, in tree hollows, on open branches, epiphytic plants

Diet: mainly leaves

This Family has two subdivisions :

Ringtail Possums

  • builds a nest in a tree for daytime resting

Number of species: 7

Greater Glider

  • gliding membrane attaches to the elbow and ankle

Number of species: 1


Family Burramyidae

Pygmy-possums

  • opposable big toe for climbing
  • tail used for grasping
  • becomes still and torpid on cold winter days

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