Trichosurus caninus
Short-eared Possum, female with her young. Image: R & D Keller/Nature Focus
Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    caninus
    Genus
    Trichosurus
    Family
    Phalangeridae
    Order
    Diprotodontia
    Class
    Mammalia
    Phylum
    Chordata
  • Size Range
    Up to 50 cm

Stocky possum with short round ears, strong claws and a black bushy tail that narrows towards the end.

Identification

A large stocky possum with short round ears, strong claws and a black bushy tail that narrows towards the end and is naked underneath and at the tip. The dorsal fur is dark grey; the belly fur and throat are white, cream or pale grey, although entirely black individuals can be found in some areas.

Habitat

Wet sclerophyll forest and rainforests from sea level to 1600 m, occasionally found in riverine vine thickets or mangrove edges.

Distribution

Restricted to moist forests of SE Australia extending from southern Queensland to around Newcastle in NSW.



Feeding and diet

At night they forage in trees or on the ground, eating shrub leaves, buds, flowers, fruit, fungi, lichen and occasionally tree bark.

Other behaviours and adaptations

This species was revised in 2002 and populations south of around Newcastle are now recognised as a separate species, T. cunninghami. Short-eared Possums are largely solitary and nocturnal, sheltering by day in nests inside tree hollows or fallen logs.

Breeding behaviours

Breeding occurs from around March-May and a single young is born after 15-17 days gestation. It spends 5-6 months in the pouch and another 2-5 months suckling and riding on the mother’s back before becoming independent.

Conversation status

The distribution and abundance of this species appears stable at present although land clearing for agriculture and forestry pose a threat in some areas.

Predators

Their main predators include dingoes, wild dogs, pythons and Spotted-tailed Quolls.