Ringtails are the smallest of eight species of ringtail possums
that live in Australia. The adults of this species typically
are between 30 and 35 cm in body length, with a tail length
that is roughly equal to the body length. They have brown or
reddish fur on the upper surfaces of the body and light colored
or gray fur on the ventral surfaces, with large eyes which are
well adapted to seeing at night. Two of the claws found on the
front feet are opposable and the pads, as well as the tips,
of the toes are grooved. They possess a strong, but relatively
hairless, prehensile tail. This tail is carried tightly curled
when not in use. These animals can be distinguished from other
possum species in several ways. Their ears are smaller and more
rounded and they typically have patches of white fur both on
and above the ears. The tail of Common Ringtail has a white
tip and is tapered.
Common Ringtails have an extensive distribution. They occur
in temperate or tropical areas but are rarely found in drier
areas. It is thought that this wide habitat range is due to
their ability to feed on a number of different plant species.
They can usually be found in dense brush forests, as they favor
environments that are plentiful with eucalyptus. Nests are mostly
found in hollow trees lined with leaves. P. peregrinus
constructs a large spherical drey of shredded bark, twigs and
leaves in dense shrubbery.
Ringtails are nocturnal and primarily folivorous. They feed
mainly on eucalyptus leaves, but may also eat flowers, buds,
nectar, and fruit. A low metabolic rate helps to compensate
for the low energy intake of these mammals due to their specialized
diet. Common ringtail possums prefer eating the youngest foliage
of the plants they consume. This effects reproductive patterns,
as the young leave the pouch and are weaned during times when
flower and fruit growth peaks.
occurs from April - November with a litter of 2 young. The female's
pouch has a forward facing opening; two of the four nipples
are functional at one time. Older females can produce up to
two litters of young per year. Initial growth of their young
is generally slow.
habitat Australia: Cape York Peninsula (Queensland) to SE South
Australia and SW Western Australia, Tasmania, and islands of
the Bass Straits.