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Common Brushtail Possum (juvenile)

Trichosurus vulpecula


The Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula, from the Greek for "furry tailed" and the Latin for "little fox", previously in the genus Phalangista) is a nocturnal, semi-arboreal marsupial of the family Phalangeridae. It is native to Australia, and the largest of the possums. Like most possums, the Common Brushtail Possum is nocturnal. It is mainly a folivore, but has been known to eat small mammals such as rats. In most Australian habitats, leaves of eucalyptus are a significant part of the diet but rarely the sole item eaten. The tail is prehensile and naked on its lower underside. There are four colour variations: silver-grey, brown, black and gold. It is the Australian marsupial most often seen by city-dwellers, as it is one of few that thrive in cities, as well as a wide range of natural and human-modified environments. Around human habitations, Common Brushtails are inventive and determined foragers with a liking for fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and kitchen raids.


Brushtail Possums have proven highly adaptable to urban environments using trees, wildlife corridors, natural gullies, roofs and wall cavities, often moving via telegraph poles, cabling and fences for travelling and foraging. Cities and towns provide abundant warm, dry shelters, lots of available food plants from manufactured gardens and opportunity to scavenge from litter and rubbish bins. Hand feeding by residents and leaving domestic pet-food outside can also assist possums. Densities are much higher now due to high availability of food and suitable refugia.


I've been seeing this little one with its mother each evening. They come down to feed on the fruit of a native Lippi Pilli tree. This juvenile is about half the size of a fully grown adult. I might add there has also been a Flying Fox feeding in the same tree, but it will not stay if the possums are present. Here's some info on the tree itself - ... and the bat -

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27 Comments (1–25)

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 5 years ago

Thanks, Sarah, James and Mauna. Too cute, and it does look like a stuffed toy. And James, I have family in the Sydney's NW, and they get both the ringtails and brushtails. Also lots of pygmy possums. Brisbane is the main two, but I haven't seen other species.

mauna Kunzah
mauna Kunzah 5 years ago

Aww, it looks like a stuffed animal!

JamesPriest2 5 years ago

Great photos. Remember seeing them in Hyde Park in Sydney at night when I lived in the inner city

SarahWhitt 5 years ago

Oh MY!! This one slipped by me!!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 10 years ago

Thanks guys. They all look adorable when they're young. This one looks like a little stuffed toy. A different story when they reach maturity though. The adult males in particular can become quite aggressive. Just ask one of my cats, a large adult male. He came off second best! I think Opossums look awesome. Would love to see one.

Jolly Ibañez
Jolly Ibañez 10 years ago

Very adorable spotting. Congratulations Neil.

beaker98 10 years ago

This is just adorable! I wish our possums looked like this. We have the Virginia Opossum, and they aren't even close to being this cute. Wonderful photos.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 10 years ago

It took ages to identify this species and in the end I resorted to image searches. There are so many different types it's mind-blowing. Which ones are fit for human consumption is anyone's guess, but this particular species of Lilli Pilli is -

Seema 10 years ago

but this fruit looks edible...
I have tasted 2-3 varieties of the Syzigium in S. California..
but the unidentified fruit does not look like was solid and spotted..

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 10 years ago

That's a good way to put it. Thanks, sintija.

Sintija Valucka
Sintija Valucka 10 years ago

Cuteness overload!!! :)))
Great spotting! :))

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 10 years ago

This one's cute for the moment. It'll loose that soon enough.

Dixie 10 years ago

Our possums in Texas are definitely not this cute!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 10 years ago

All native wildlife is protected in Australia, Bhagya, as it should be. If any animals are a nuisance, it's because we've upset the balance.

Bhagya Herath
Bhagya Herath 10 years ago

oh ..... im so sorry to hear that Neil ,
i dont even like to think of a day without my cat boy ... i will be not me that day
oh so they are abundant as they are native to Australia should protect them no ... i m planing to visit there and see them one day .... they are the last bit of Marsupials no so just forgive them for their disturbance...

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 10 years ago

Sorry to say my boy was killed by a dog not long after he was mauled by the possum. I was devastated. Lots of possums in Brisbane, as it is with most Aussie cities. If I don't see one each night, I certainly hear one. They carry on almost as much as the bats do, although the bats don't chase one another across the roof tops and make such a din.

Bhagya Herath
Bhagya Herath 10 years ago

ha ha that s bad then .... because i love cats more than anything .......... hope your cat is fine now ....
you captured the fellow nicely .... is the population of possum is good there Neil?

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 10 years ago

My cat (a large adult male) was mauled by a large adult possum. Not a pretty sight. The little ones are very sweet, and this little fellow is cute. A soft toy sounds like a terrific idea. Here's a spotting from earlier this year of another youngster:

Bhagya Herath
Bhagya Herath 10 years ago

how your vet become richer because of this cutie Neil?
OMG this one is sooooo lovely im gonna find a soft toy even like this guy ....

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 10 years ago

Cheers, Bhagya. They're all cute as youngsters, but they soon grow up and become big and gnarly and have very sharp teeth. Just ask my cat... and my vet who is now $1000 richer because of a brushtail. Such is life.

Bhagya Herath
Bhagya Herath 10 years ago

OMG this is sooooooooooooo cute ..... love him so much..... i want one ....
great spotting Neil ....

sarah in the woods
sarah in the woods 10 years ago

That is so much cuter than our possums in North America!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 10 years ago

Thanks, Ingrid. I spotted a smaller ringtail possum in the same tree late night and the bats didn't seem to mind it at all. they did keep a respectable distance from each other though. The larger brushtail possums seem to be avoided, probably due to their size and more aggressive nature. I wouldn't tangle with them either.

Ingrid3 10 years ago

Oh my god! TOO CUTE! Interesting observations on the cross-species activities.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 10 years ago

Cute and adorable, most certainly. Pity mum's not in the photo because it would give a better sense of its size - about half grown.

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

Fairfield, Queensland, Australia

Spotted on Nov 17, 2013
Submitted on Nov 18, 2013

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