Possums & Gliders
The common brushtail possum is a nocturnal, semi-arboreal marsupial native to Australia, and the second-largest of the possums.
Like most possums, the common brushtail possum is nocturnal. The tail is prehensile and naked on its lower underside. The four colour variations are silver-grey, brown, black, and gold.
It is the Australian marsupial most often seen by city dwellers, as it is one of few that thrive in cities and a wide range of natural and human-modified environments. Around human habitations, common brushtails are inventive and determined foragers with a liking for fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and kitchen raids.
Information for Rescuers
General Information for rescuing possums & gliders
♦ Place the possum/glider in a secure environment eg a pillowcase with the top tied securely or a secured box.
♦ Cover with a towel to create a warm environment, and reduces visual stimuli.
♦ Put the animal somewhere warm, quiet and dark to reduce the stress. This means – no nursing or cuddling; no photos; keeping it away from the TV, pet dog etc.
Joey possum or glider:
Information for rescuers
♦ Check: if cold or has no fur, place a hot water bottle (even a drink bottle will do) filled with hot tap water only, wrapped in cloth, next to (never underneath) the joey.
♦ Place the joey in a secure environment – eg pillowcase and secure and follow instructions above.
Possum in a roofs or wall cavities, powerlines etc
♦ Members of Hunter Wildlife Rescue cannot remove possums from inside roofs, wall cavities, under houses etc.
♦ You will need to get the possum’s entry point fixed so the possum cannot re-enter. By law, the possum will be released in the same area. A member of Hunter Wildlife Rescue can take the possum into care AFTER it has been contained and it will be released back in the same area
Who to call: Fee for service
♦ Amalgamated Pest Control 4943 9999
♦ Possum Plus Greg 1300 164 831 0432433784
♦ Aristocrat Pest Control Peter 0408862859
Possum in a chimneys
♦ Hang a thick rope down inside the chimney
♦ Or open the fireplace door when dark and leave nearest window or door open for it to escape. Close off other rooms. Entice out with a piece of apple.
Most common reasons for rescues
- Attack by pets such as cats
- Hit by cars
- Heat exhaustion
Ringtail possum being hand raised
What Do They Eat?
Brushtail posssums are mainly a folivore, but has been known to eat small mammals such as rats. In most Australian habitats, leaves of eucalyptus are a significant part of the diet, but rarely the sole item eaten.
The common brushtail possum can adapt to numerous kinds of vegetation. It prefers Eucalyptus leaves, but also eats flowers, shoots, fruits, and seeds. It may also consume animal matter such as insects, birds’ eggs and chicks, and other small vertebrates. Brushtail possums may eat three or four different plant species during a foraging trip, unlike some other arboreal marsupials, such as the koala and the greater glider, which focus on single species. The brushtail possum’s rounded molars cannot cut Eucalyptus leaves as finely as more specialised feeders. They are more adapted to crushing their food, which enables them to chew fruit or herbs more effectively. The brushtail possums’ caecum lacks internal ridges and cannot separate coarse and fine particles as efficiently as some other arboreal marsupials. The brushtail possum cannot rely on Eucalyptus alone to provide sufficient protein. Its more generalised and mixed diet, however, does provide adequate nitrogen.