Physical characteristics: The common brush-tailed possum varies widely in size and color. Its fur can be black, gray, reddish, or brown. In the colder parts of its range, individuals tend to be larger and furrier than those who live in warmer regions. Unlike some members of this family, the common brush-tailed has a patch of bushy fur on its tail.
Geographic range: Brush-tailed possums live in eastern and southwestern Australia and in New Zealand.
Habitat: The brush-tailed possum is adaptable, living in cool, damp forests and dry regions with few trees. It has adjusted successfully to life in city parks and the suburbs.
Diet: Common brush-tailed possums are herbivores, eating leaves, buds, flowers, and fruits, garden plants, herbs, and grasses.
Behavior and reproduction: Common brush-tailed possums are active at night and normally live alone. However, if there are many possums and few places to shelter, they may share their sleeping space with another possum. Male common brush-tailed possums try to avoid conflict with other males, although they can be aggressive in defending their home range. They are known for their loud grunts, growls, and screeches that are used to warn away other males during breeding season. Females usually have one offspring each year, born after an eighteen-day pregnancy. The young then live in the mother’s pouch for about seven months.
Common brush-tailed possums and people: This animal probably has more contact with people than any other Australian marsupial because it has adapted so well to cities and suburban areas. It is trapped for its fur and is considered a pest in some farming areas and in New Zealand, where it was introduced about 150 years ago.
Conservation status: The common brush-tailed possum is common within its range and is not threatened with extinction.