The Common Brushtail Possum on Kangaroo Island

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 01/20/2017

Reading time: 3 mins

Animal lovers in Australia enjoy the diverse selection of wildlife on Kangaroo Island.

Here, native species frolic about in their natural habitat, whether that’s lush forests or wild beaches. The common brushtail possum is one of the most common species you’ll find on the island. Its name stems from the Greek for “furry tailed”. They are native to Australia and the second largest possum species.

The common brushtail possum was introduced to New Zealand in the mid-1800s and thrived there so much that it became a pest. In Australia, they are much less densely populated. This is mainly because eucalyptus forests are more fragmented here and there are more predators.

Like most of its close relatives, the brushtail possum is a nocturnal creature.  Most of the time, is a folivore and thrives on leaves. However, these critters have been known to eat small mammals, like rats and mice on occasion. They come in four colour variations: silver-grey, brown, black, and gold. They all have prehensile tails that help them balance and climb trees.

The common brushtail possum is the most common native Australian marsupial that is seen by city-dwellers. It thrives in the hustle and bustle of urban life, but on Kangaroo Island, you’ll get to see them in the wild, native habitat, amongst trees and greenery and other lush landscapes.

The Behaviour of the Common Brushtail Possum

These creatures live a predominantly solitary lifestyle, making their individual dens in natural caverns like trees hollows and caves (in their urban setting, they will set up home in the roofs of houses and other nooks and crannies). They communicate with each other via a series of clicks, hisses, screeches, and grunts.

The Diet of the Common Brushtail Possum

Because of its varied habitats, the common brushtail possum can adapt to different environments and the food found in them. Its go-to food of choice is Eucalyptus leaves, but it will eat flowers, shoots, fruits, and seeds if it finds them along the way. When times get tough, it will also devour animal matter, like insects, birds’ eggs, and small chicks.

If you’re a keen animal lover and find yourself on Kangaroo Island, keep your eyes peeled for these cute critters. Though they are nocturnal, you might be able to catch a glimpse of them from time to time as they forage for leaves and fruits and tend to their dens.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.

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