Curious about a possum? If you’re looking for some adorable critters to share your backyard with, the cute little guys are perfect! You might happen upon a mother possum and her young joey hot on her tail. But if you want to be sure that they don’t become pests around your porch or home, read on to learn all about their habitat and habits!
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What is a Possum?
A possum is a type of mammal known as a marsupial. People often confuse the possum with the opossum, which is related but distinct. The opossum is also a marsupial and appears similar, but it inhabits the Americas.There are 69 species of possums. They range from the brushtail possum to the ringtail possum to several variations of pygmy possums. One species, the sugar glider, even soars through the air like a flying squirrel.Humans commonly view possums as pests. They can get into the house, shed, and garden and do significant damage. They also frequently carry diseases passed on through urine and feces as well as scratches and bites.
Where Do Possums Live?
The only place where these cute creatures exist is in the wild. They’ve never been found living in captivity anywhere outside of Australasia.
Which Habitats Do Possums Prefer?
In Australia, possums thrive in both urban and rural environments. They prove themselves remarkably adaptable as they take in both woodlands, rainforests, eucalypt forests, coastal shrub forests, and even cliffsides with little vegetation. They do best when it has plenty of trees for refuge and camouflage.
These remote locations also offer many food sources: plants, insects, eggs, fruits, rodents including those like rats and mice which are common prey; dead animals too, should they provide enough nutrients to the possum! Though their presence can be problematic at times, they may help eliminate other kinds of pests such as rabbits or birds.
Do Possums Burrow?
Here’s an interesting fact: possums don’t live in burrows! The typical Australian homeowner can attest this to their horror when they happen upon a rat or bandicoot digging into their garden, but the holes are typically small–too small for these animals to move a lot of dirt with their front limbs. So where do we find possums?
They seek refuge in hollow trees where they’re almost completely invisible from any angle as well as from other animals that roam above ground. If possible, they may even take over abandoned nests or create their own hole.
Possums as Pests in the Home
If you live in an urban area and have a backyard, it’s not always enough to just think about planting flowers in your garden. You also need to figure out how to deal with pests of all kinds, like possums– because this adorable little creature can cause serious damage to your property and even spread diseases.
They’re nocturnal animals who will try to take up residence in different homes and structures, so you need to find ways to keep them away and discourage them from coming around.
Possum Social Behaviour
Brushtail possums are solitary. Each possum tends to mark its own territory with scent because they’re a territorial species. The exception is during mating season when male and female brushtails come together to mate. The other exception is mothers and young joeys, which remain together until they reach maturity at the age of 18 months.
There are a lot of small mammals that can be vulnerable to predation from far more dangerous animals. Such is the case with possums, which live in trees to escape their predators, including dogs and cats, dingoes, tigers, snakes, foxes, and even owls. Possums are currently protected in Australia to the point they’re illegal to remove from your property without a special permit there. However, in Tasmania it’s legal for hunters to kill the brushtail possum during a specified hunting season. More often than not, your chances of ever seeing this small animal is pretty slim. They make their homes away from humans most of the time!
Though the possum is small, it lives in the world’s largest native forest, one that’s almost impenetrable. Dogs and cats, including dingoes, readily go after them. They live in trees partially to avoid predators such as snakes, foxes, tiger quolls, and even owls. Check out this video about some of the predators who often prey on possums!
The Australian government has been working to protect the brushtail possum since European settlement began. In Tasmania, however, hunting is allowed during a specific hunting season each year.