Like all ringtail possums, the common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus
) has a strongly prehensile tail which acts as a fifth limb, and which is carried tightly coiled when not being used. It can be distinguished from the brushtail by the light covering of fur on its tail, as well as the white tail tip.
Distribution and habitat
The common ringtail occurs along the entire length of the eastern seaboard of mainland Australia and in the south west corner of western Australia.
It is widespread throughout Tasmania, where it occurs in a variety of vegetation types, especially eucalypt forests and areas of tall, dense tea-tree.
The ringtail feeds on leaves, as well as flowers. The ringtail is well adapted to a diet of eucalypt leaves, apparently being capable of detoxifying the tannins and phenols in the animal's caecum (a part of the gut). The low metabolic rate of the species is believed to compensate for the relatively low energy yield of its diet.
It is strictly nocturnal and, unlike the brushtail possum
, is strongly arboreal, spending little time on the ground. Spherical nests about the size of a football, called dreys, are constructed from bark and grass among the dense canopy of the understorey. The ringtail is unusual among possums in being an active nest builder.
Females give birth between April and November, usually to two young which remain in the pouch for about four months. After this time the young often ride on the mothers back.