Animal Emblem: Leadbeater's Possum

Leadbeater's PossumVictoria's animal emblem is the Leadbeater's Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri McCoy).

It is found only in Victoria and is confined to the mountain ash forests of the central highlands, from Healesville and Marysville to Mt Baw Baw.

Even in the days of the early naturalists in Victoria, this possum was regarded as one of the rarer members of our fauna. It was thought to be extinct from 1909 until the species was rediscovered near Marysville in 1961.

The wellbeing of Leadbeater's Possum seems to be closely associated with the botanical succession within mountain ash forests. It is important that adequate provision be made for it among the diverse demands on our hardwood forests.

The possum is about 40 cm from nose to tail tip. Half the animal's length is taken up by the tail. Soft, dense fur covers the body, becoming progressively longer on the distinctively club-shaped tail. The colour of the animal is a dark greyish-brown with whitish under-parts. The face is quite beautifully marked.

Unlike some possums of its size, it does not have gliding membranes. It is a nimble species, which jumps from branch to branch.

It feeds on insects living on the foliage and under the bark of eucalypts, plant exudates, honey-dew from insects and some sap and gum.

Leadbeater's Possum breeds from February to November, producing one to two young in a litter.

The future of this species lies heavily in the hands of those governing management processes in its native habitat.

Last updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013