Common Ringtail Possum
License : Basic
Captive life span : up to 8 years
Size : Head & body length 300-350mm, tail 300-350mm
Weight : 700-900 grams
Housing : Aviary
There are four sub species of common ringtail possum in Australia. P.p. peregrinus, Cape York to Kangaroo Island. P. p. cooki, coast scrubs of South eastern mainland. P.p. convolutor, Tasmania and Bass Strait Islands. P.p. pulcher South eastern Queensland and Northern eastern NSW rainforest. Size - head and body length 300-350mm, tail length 300-350mm and weight 700-900g. Ringtails live between to 3-6 years in the wild and up to 8 years in captivity. You require a Basic License to keep this species in Victoria. For those keeping this species in Victoria is is highly likely they are keeping Pseudocheirus peregrinus convolutor. The Common ringtail possum is a species known to many on the East Coast of Australia, mainly for eating roses or newly planted gardens. Not many people realise how delightful this species can be in a captive environment. Compared to the more popular Sugar Glider - many keepers find Ringtail possum the “easier” of the two species.
Housing - DELWP minimum enclosure size 7sq metres at 3 metres high for 2 animals with 4sq metre increased floor area for each additional animal. Enclosure sizes from, Jackson are 2.8L x 2.8W x 3H(M) space for each additional animal 2.0L x 2.0W(M). When furnishing the enclosure make sure feeding areas and nest boxes are protected from the weather. Make a base structure of furnishings with vertical and horizontal branches at different heights in the aviary. Natural rope can also be used. Adding larger fresh branches in addition to browse always changes the environment, keeps the animals active and provides the possums with new materials to build their nests with. For “nest boxes” you could use a nest box, hollow log, or possum ball. Do not remove logs from the wild the wild animals need them more. Nest boxes are easily replaceable and easier to clean and maintain. Consider providing two nest boxes at all times, the possums favour one but will alternate from night to night.
Health - As with any species good husbandry practices, clean enclosures, properly fed animals and enclosures not being over crowded, prevent the majority of disease and health issues. The basics to look for in Ringtails is ectoparasites (fleas, mites) endoparasites (worms). Protozoans (toxoplasmosis). For more in depth health information refer to Australian Mammals Biology and Captive Management by Stephen Jackson. For information on diet. Breeding & introductions. Next box sizes & aviary design logon to the Members area.
Diet - Ringtails are folivores eating mainly eucalypt leaves, flowers and fruit. The Common ringtail is caecotrophic (re-ingesting soft faeces of high nutritive value derived form caecal contents). This aids the animal in obtaining protein energy and vitamins that are lost due poor absorption in the caecum. Diet used by Healesville Sanctuary - Daily Diet per animal 4g apple, 4g pear or other hard fruits, 4g carrot, 3g banana, 3g sprouted seed, 6g fly pupae. Supplement 2g dog chow/eukanuba pet food kibble twice per week. 1 almond shelled – 3-4 times per week. 5g grated egg and cheese twice per week. 5 sultanas – 3-4 times a week. Native flowers e.g. banksias eucalyptus as available. Fresh branches of foliage to eat. Diet from Overton “Keeping Native Mammals” Per animal - per night,increase during breeding season. 1/2 cup chopped fruit (apple, pear, banana, etc),1 broccoli/cauliflower floweret,1 tbsp corn kernels Berries/Grapes/Lilly Pilly etc. Extras (every 2nd day) Sweet potato, parsley, 1tbsp rolled oats, 1tbsp raisins, sunflower seeds, 1 almond. Optional (once a week)1 x date, dried fig, 1 x rice cracker, 1/4 muesli bar/finger of bread. Ad Lib Native Blossoms & Leaves (eucalyptus, banksias, acacia, grevilles, callistemon, leptospermum, etc). Fresh water should be available at all times.
Introductions - Ringtail possums are best housed in pairs - usually female and female or female and male. Animals to be introduced together should be introduced into a new enclosure. Most of the time this is not a practical option, wash and clean the enclosure you have and replace all furnishings, replacing nest boxes would also be ideal.
Breeding - Mating occurs between April and December with most births peaking from May to July. The female has 4 teats and normally gives birth to twins, though the litter size can vary from 1 to 4. Some older females can have 2 litters per breeding season. Young remain in the pouch for 4 months and are weaned at 6 months of age. Ringtails reach sexual maturity at 12 months for males and 10-12 months for females. Always remember males cannot be housed together, if you do breed this species and your female produces male offspring, they may be difficult to house, you could end up with needing more enclosures to house individual males.