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Ringtail Possum


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The ringtail possum is an agile, arboreal (tree-dwelling) marsupial that lives in rainforests and coastal temperate deciduous forests in eastern and southwestern Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. It is nocturnal (most active at night) and sleeps during the day, in a hollow tree or in a nest made of twigs and leaves.

Most ringtail possum species are solitary, but the common ringtail, Pseudocheirus peregrinus, congregates in small, temporary groups of 2 to 3 adults.

Anatomy: The ringtail possum is about 6 to 18 inches (16 - 46 cm) long, plus a tail equally as long. It weighs up to 3 pounds (1.5 kg). The woolly fur is brown to gray with a paler belly. The prehensile (grasping) tail is hairless at the tip. It has two opposable fingers (of five) on its hands.

The Pouch: Females are pregnant for about 4 months. After birth, the two tiny newborns crawl into the pouch, where they will drink milk, remaining in the pouch for about 2 months. After leaving the pouch, they still ride on their mother's back until they mature.

Diet: The ringtail possum is an herbivore (a plant eater) that eats leaves, fruit, and flowers in the trees at night. The common ringtail has adapted to eating toxic eucalyptus leaves; it can detoxify the poisons in this plant.

Classification: Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia, Subclass Metatheria (marsupials), Order Marsupialia (marsupials), Family Petauridae, Genus Pseudocheirus, Species peregrinus.

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