Ring-tailed Possum or Pseudocheirus peregrinus.
Normally Ring-tailed possums are asleep during the day but the one in this photograph was chased around our back yard by birds who wanted to take over the possum's nest.
Ring-tailed possums are cute because they do not rub up against your leg when you are wearing a suit and on the way to an appointment. I wish our cat would learn possum manners.
The last time I had a ring-tailed possum cuddled up in my arms, it had a broken leg and I was taking it to the wildlife repair centre. I realised my Ramset gun might be a bit big for a possum leg. The repair centre had possum sized pins and fixed the leg up in a few minutes. They even housed and fed the possum until the possum was ready to walk again.
I visited a wildlife repair centre named Sydney Wildlife. They had the cutest little baby possums. Baby possums start off hairless and you have to keep them very warm. The babies grow hair and leave home, unlike human babies who grow hair but never leave home.
See also the Australian Museum page on ring-tailed possums. The top photograph on the Lamington National Park page on ring-tailed possums shows a possum using his or her tail to hold on to a branch for balance.
Possums eat leaves, flowers, and fruit. Flower pollen is a good source of protein, as are grubs in fruit. If you want to help feed possums, look in your garden each month to see what is in flower and think about planting trees that flower in those months when you have nothing in flower. Possums prefer to stay in the trees and will not attack your garden plants when there are trees with flowers.
Possums will roam several hundred metres looking for food. That is about two or three houses in each direction. They defend their territory but Brush Tail possums and Ring Tail possums live along side each other so you can have two families in your garden.
Fruit bats eat a similar diet and are more likely to be the cause of significant damage because fruit bats can arrive by the hundred.
Possums are happy in the hollows formed in gum trees when old branches rot away. They also like the quiet warm spaces in your roof. The ring tail will make a nest in the fork of a tree and form nests of leaves in branches. The flat area of leaves is often called a
drey. Conserve old trees because they supply nesting sites for a wide range of native animals.
I have removed many of the larger brush tail possums from my roof and friends roofs. It is rare to find a ring tail possum in a roof because the big brush tails push the small ring tails out. There was a ring tail nesting in a gum tree near our back door that had several branches meeting in one place. Eventually big mean birds chased the ring tail out to take over the nest site.
Ring tails are normally solitary but, according to the vets at the Taronga Zoo, the ring tail I carried in to them one morning eventually formed a group nest with several other ring tail patients. The zoo vets transferred the ring tails to the wild as a group.
You can buy possum houses for the bigger brush tails. Ring tails are often happy with a short length of drain pipe or similar safe stable hiding place. They just need enough cover to keep birds from attacking them during the day. The entry hole should be small enough to keep the bigger brush tails out.