Australian Animals
and Birds

Some True Facts
about the

Pigmy Possum

Australia has many kinds of possum, all of which are marsupials, with a pouch for their young, and nocturnal. The most common one is the Common Brushtail Possum, which is about the size of a cat. They are silvery grey colour and found in wooded areas and in cities - where they love to eat fruit from people's trees, flowers, buds and leaves, and run over rooftops to get from place to place. Sometimes they live inside roofs, but are supposed to prefer hollow trees and logs.

The possums in the book are actually Long-tailed Pigmy Possums, which are much rarer, but look like Brushtail Possums, only a lot smaller - about 16 centimetres (6 inches) from nose to tail tips. They are only found in a few forested areas. Usually four young are born at a time. When this happens, they are only a fraction over a millimeter long (about a 1/16 inch), and they have to crawl through the mothers fur to a nipple in her pouch. When they are old enough to leave the pouch, they go piggyback riding on their mother's back until they get too heavy.

A Pigmy Possum's long tail is 'prehensile', which means it can grip and be used like a fifth hand, but it can also help it balance on branches and when it leaps through trees.

Their favourite foods are insects, and nectar and pollen from flowers. To help them get the nectar, they have hairy tongues. The pollen mainly collects on their fur while they are drinking nectar. They comb it off their fur with their claws, then lick it off them, and it gets fermented in their intestines to supply protein.

The flowers of some trees are specially adapted to be pollinated by mammals like Long-tailed Pigmy Possums.