Wikia

Psychology Wiki

Possum

Talk0
34,138pages on
this wiki
Revision as of 22:31, April 20, 2009 by Dr Joe Kiff (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Animals · Animal ethology · Comparative psychology · Animal models · Outline · Index


For the Western Hemisphere marsupial, see opossum.
?Possums[1]
Common Brushtail Possum(Trichosurus vulpecula)
Common Brushtail Possum
(Trichosurus vulpecula)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Suborder: Phalangeriformes
Szalay in Archer, 1982
Superfamilies and Families

Phalangeroidea

Petauroidea

A possum (plural form: possums) is any of about 69 small to medium-sized arboreal marsupial species native to Australia, New Guinea, and Sulawesi (and introduced to New Zealand and China). The name derives from their resemblance to the opossums of the Americas. (The name is from Algonquian wapathemwa, not Greek or Latin, so the plural is possums, not possa.) Possum is also used in North America as a short form of Opossum. The possum's rank odour is due to its large musk glands located behind each ear.

Possums are small marsupials with brown or grey fur, ranging in size and weight from the length of a finger or 170 grams (6 ounces) (pygmy possums and wrist-winged gliders), to the length of 120 centimetres (four feet) or 14.5 kilograms (32 pounds) (brushtails and ringtails). In general, though, the larger possums are about the same size as a well-fed domestic cat. All possums are nocturnal and omnivorous, hiding in a nest in a hollow tree during the day and coming out during the night to forage for food. They fill much the same role in the Australian ecosystem that squirrels fill in the northern hemisphere and are broadly similar in appearance.

The two most common species of possums, the Common Brushtail and Common Ringtail, are also among the largest.

Interaction with humans

The animal has been a part of Australian culture and folklore since the original indigenous inhabitants of the country. Aboriginal Australians once used possum hides whilst playing the traditional game of Marn Grook. Possum-skin cloaks were important clothing for Aborigines from the south-east, as well as being important clan heirlooms.

Possums are commonly found in suburban areas, where they are often considered pests owing to their habit of eating fruit, vegetables, flowers and tender young shoots from gardens, and nesting in roofs. The loud hissing, crackling territorial call of the male Common Brushtail may also be a problem for suburban residents. Natural deterrents which play upon the possum's acute sense of smell are often employed to discourage them. These include cloves of garlic, camphor or naphthalene. As a native species in Australia, possums are protected by Australian regulations, even when they reside in urban neighbourhoods, and cannot be baited. If captured, regulations stipulate that they must be released within a small radius of the capture site as they are territorial creatures. Preventative measures such as blocking off their access to the roof spaces or building a possum nesting box for an alternative home are instead recommended.

Although the Common Brushtail and (to a lesser extent) ringtail possums have adapted well to the urban environment, many of the lesser-known species are reduced in number, threatened, or endangered.

Introduction into New Zealand

The Common Brushtail Possum was introduced to New Zealand by European settlers in an attempt to establish a fur industry.

They soon escaped into the wild where they have thrived as an invasive species with great numbers: around 70 million individuals estimated in 2009. There are no native predators of the possum in New Zealand. There have been numerous attempts to eradicate them because of the damage they do to native trees and wildlife, as well as acting as a carrier of bovine tuberculosis. For New Zealand, the introduction of possums has resulted in as much of an ecological disaster as the introduction of rabbits has been in Australia.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Since 1996, efforts have been made to utilize possum fur in clothing. A blend of Australian brushtailed possum fur with merino wool was developed by Untouched World, a New Zealand fashion label. The product is called merinomink, eco-possum, possumdown, eco fur or possum wool and accounts for 95% of all commercially caught possum fur. Possum fur is also used for fur trim, jackets, bed throws, and possum leather gloves. All the fur is obtained from wild-caught possums, which are considered pests.[2]

Classification

File:A possum.JPG
File:Tame Possum.jpg
File:Possum-night.JPG

About two-thirds of Australian marsupials belong to the order Diprotodontia, which is split into three suborders: the Vombatiformes (wombats and the Koala, 4 species in total); the large and diverse Phalangeriformes (the possums and gliders) and Macropodiformes (kangaroos, potoroos, wallabies and the Musky Rat-kangaroo).


Possums are noted for their lack of a stomach. Instead, food is digested through their intestines and digestive tract.

References

  1. Groves, Colin (16 November 2005). Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds) Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition, 44-56, Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
  2. New Zealand turns a pest into luxury business

See also

Template:Diprotodontia


This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki