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Common Brushtail Possum

Common Brushtail Possum
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Trichosurus vulpecta
The Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecta) is the largest possum, and the most familiar of all Australian marsupials: one of the very few that thrives in cities as well as a wide range of natural and human-modified environments.

Like all possums, the Common Brushtail is nocturnal and omnivorous: in the wild it mostly eats leaves, but supplements this with fruits, flowers, buds, and whatever else is available. Common Brushtails have a notable tolerace to plant toxins; several of their favoured trees are poisonous to most creatures. Around human habitations, Common Brushtails are inventive and determined foragers with a liking for fruit trees, vegetable gardens, compost heaps and rubbish bins.

During the day Common Brushtails sleep in a nest in a hollow tree or any other convenient place, notably ceiling spaces that are not securely sealed. Although primarily aboreal and not found in places without trees to provide refuge, they spend a good deal of time on the ground.

The very loud hissing, crackling territorial call of the male Common Brushtail has a nightmare quality.

European settlers aiming to establish a fur industry introduced the Common Brushtail to New Zealand, where there are no native mammals other than bats. This proved to be an ecological disaster on a grand scale: there are now about 60 million Common Brushtail Possums in New Zealand, and no reasonable hope of eradication. The possums have proved destructive of native wildlife, and are for example the chief predator of the carnivorous land snails Powelliphanta spp.

Common Brushtail Possum.