marsupialia

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Eastern Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus nanus)

…a small species of pygmy possum that is native to south-eastern Australia and occurs from southern Queensland to eastern South Australia and Tasmania. Eastern pygmy possums typically inhabit rainforests, woodlands, heaths and sclerophyll forests. They are active at night and feed primarily on nectar and pollen using their brush tipped tongue, however they will also take fruits and insects as well. During the day they will rest in trees, abandoned nests and thickets. Although they are usually solitary they have been reported to rest communally.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Marsupialia-Diprotodontia-Burramyidae-Cercartetus-C.nannus

Images: Phil Spark and Visitmelbourneblog

Linnaeus’s Mouse Opossum - Marmosa murina

This cute opossum, commonly referred to as Linnaeus’s Mouse Opossum, and Murine Mouse Opossum, is scientifically named Marmosa murina (Didelphidae). It is a South American species group with a wide range of sizes and coloration. 

This small opossum is arboreal, nocturnal, and insectivorous, but it is versatile in its habitat exploitation and is frequently trapped on the ground, sometimes near human dwellings, like this specimen, which was found near a camp and allowed to be taken with the hand to be returned to the forest.

The ears of this opossum can be lowered by crinkling them down, similar to the furling of a sail. M. murina has no pouch, but the tail is strongly prehensile.

References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4] - [5]

Photo credit: ©Max Bernal Montes | Locality: not indicated

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Dibbler (Parantechinus apicalis)

…A species of marsupial that is restricted to a small area ins southwest Australia and some offshore islands. Dibblers are mainly active at dawn and dusk and will feed on insects and other small invertebrates, although they are also known to feed on small vertebrates as well. Dibblers are well adapted for foraging in the undergrowth and have sharp teeth and claws and grooves on their feet which help them climb.

Currently the dibbler is listed as endangered as it has lost 90% of its former range. It faces threats from habitat loss and predation from introduced animals.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Marsupialia-Dasyuromorphia-Dasyuridae-Dasyurini-Parantechinus-P.apicalis

Images: Perth Zoo

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Striped Possum (Dactylopsila trivirgata)

…a species of petaurid that is native to New Guinea, northern Australia and several surrounding islands. Striped possums are nocturnal and arboreal and use their prehensile tail, powerful incisors and elongated fourth finger to take beetle larvae and caterpillars from tree bark. They will also eat leaves, small vertebrates and fruits. It detects the larvae from inside the trees by rapidly drumming on them with the toes of its forefoot.  Striped possums are also noted for their unpleasant smell and loud calls.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Marsupialia-Diprotodontia-Petauridae-Dactylopsila-D.trivirgata

Images: Jacqui Rock and Joe McKenna

Kowari 

The Kowari, Dasyuroides byrnei (Dasyuromorphia - Dasyuridae), is a rat-like, grizzled grey, carnivorous marsupial with a head-body length up to 180 mm. The distinguishing feature of this species is the tail, which is slightly shorter than head-body length, thick and reddish in the basal half with a large black brush encircling the distal half. The hind feet have only four toes.

The kowari is a terrestrial, burrowing animal that occurs on the gibber plains of north-eastern South Australia and south-western Queensland, where it is patchily distributed.

This species is rare and scattered with low densities, so it is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Oliver Ramstedt

Locality: Frankfurt Zoo

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Mahogany Glider (Petaurus gracilis)

…an endangered species of Gliding Possum (Petauridae) which is restricted to a very small area between Ollera Creek south of Ingham and Tully in North Queensland, Australia. This area consists mainly of open forest with many different species of flowering plants that provide food sources year round. Like other Petaurids, P. gracilis feeds mainly on eucalypt sap and gum. But will also take acacia sap/seeds, pollen, nectar, various plants, and the occasional insect. Mahogany gliders are nocturnal in nature, emerging at night to feed. Pairs are monogamous, but do not often cohabitate 

Currently, P. gracilis is listed as endangered by the IUCN, as it posseses a very small range and is facing threats due to habitat loss as 80+% of its historical range has been cleared for agriculture.  

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Marsupialia-Diprotodontia-Petauridae-Petaurus-P. gracilis

Image: Pfringe

Quokka - Setonix brachyurus

The Quokka or Short-tailed Wallaby, Setonix brachyurus (Macropodidae), is a Vulnerable marsupial endemic to the south-west of Western Australia, Australia, including Rottnest and Bald Islands.  

It is one of the smallest wallabies (up to 90 cm in length). Distinct features include short and fairly coarse hair with coloration generally brown with lighter underparts. The ears are short and rounded, the nose is naked and the tail is sparsely furred and short.

The quokka has strongly developed hind legs enabling it to hop, as well as climb trees up to 1.5 m, an unusual behavior for marsupials. It is also unusual in its ability to survive in an environment almost totally devoid of freshwater due to some fascinating feeding and digestive adaptations.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Angus McNab | Locality: Australia (2012)

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Long-nosed Caenolestid (Rhyncholestes raphanurus)

Also known as the long-nosed shrew opossum, the long-nosed caenolestid is one of the six surviving species of the shrew-opossums (Paucituverculata) a group of marsupials native to South America. Long-nosed caenolestids occur in Chile and Argentina and typically inhabit old growth evergreen temperate forests. Like other species of  shrew opossums R. raphanurus is a carnivore and feeds mainly on earthworms and insects which. R. raphanurus is active at night and has poor eyesight, instead relying on its hearing and whiskers to locate prey.

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Marsupialia-Paucituberculata-Caenolestidae-Rhyncholestes-R. raphanurus

Image(s): P. L. Meserve

Greater glider

Petauroides volans (Diprotodontia - Pseudocheiridae), better known as Greater glider, is the largest of the glider species in Australia. This species is also the most variable in their coloration  

Greater gliders have adapted to feed almost exclusively on eucalyptus leaves, leading to an enlarged caecum (a pouch that is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine), that assists in breaking down the cellulose – much like the koala. Interestingly, despite being proportionally long, the tail is not prehensile.  

Greater gliders can glide up to 100 m and change direction up to 90 degrees as well. They are known to use a large number of hollows within the home range, and they can use between 2-18 different hollows. They do not appear to build a nest as such, however occasionally there is a lining of leaves. 

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: ©Jeremy Ringma

Locality: unknown

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Boodie  (Burrowing Bettong, Lesueur’s Rat Kangaroo) 

The Boodie, scientifically named Bettongia lesueur (Diprotodontia - Potoroidae), is a small Australian marsupial. Like a little kangaroo, the Boodie has well developed, muscular hind limbs and short muscular forearms. The head is small with a pointed muzzle, short rounded ears and beady black eyes. 

Boodies are listed as Near Threatened because its extent of occurrence is small and it is known from just 6-8 locations. It was formerly widespread in central, southern, and south-western parts of Australia, but the species was eradicated as a result of predation by introduced animals. However, it persists in insular populations on Bernier and Dorre Islands in Shark Bay (Western Australia) and on Barrow Island off the Pilbara coast. In 1992, after an absence of 50 years, the Boodie was successfully reintroduced to the Australian mainland.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Jeremy Ringma | Locality: unknown (Australia)

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Julia Creek Dunnart (Sminthopsis douglasi)

…a species of Dasyurid marsupial which is restricted to a 8,00km2 area in the Mitchel Grass downs of riparian grassland’s, between Julia Creek and Richmond in Queensland. It is also thought to possibly occur in the Mitchell Plataue of Western Australia as well. Julia Creek dunnarts are primarily active at night and feed mainly on small insects and other small animals.  

Sminthopsis douglasi is currently listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN, as not only does it have a very small and restricted range, but it also faces threats from the invasion of Acacia victoriae and introduced predators. 

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Marsupialia-Dasyuromorphia-Dasyuridae-Sminthopsis-S. douglasi

Image: Australia Zoo

Southern Red-sided Opossum (Monodelphis sorex)

Also known as the Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum or the Dwarf Short-tailed Opossum the southern red-sided opossum is a small species of opossum (Didelphidae) that is native to South America, occurring in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. M. sorex spend most of their lives on the ground, as they are less adapted to climbing than other opossums, and are though to be crepuscular, feeding on insects and sometimes fruits at dusk and dawn.

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Didelphimorphia-Didelphidae-Monodelphis-M. sorex

Image: faunaparaguay

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Monito Del Monte (Dromiciops gliroides)

…is the sole surviving member of the ancient order of marsupials known as Microbiotheria. The monito del monte is native to southwestern South America and frequents bamboo and rainforests. These small mouse-like marsupials are primarily arboreal and comb trees at night for insects, fruit and other small invertebrates. Like most marsupials the monito del monte does indeed have a pouch where young are nursed until they are mature enough to leave. The monito del monte also plays an important role as a seed disperser and has a relationship with the plant Tristerix corymbosus. As the montio del monte is the biggest consumer of the plants fruit, and through that it disperses the plants seeds. The montio del monte is the sole disperser of T.corymbosus and it is thought it would go extinct with out its marsupial counterpart.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Marsupialia-Australidelphia-Microbiotheria-Microbiotheriidae-Dromiciops-gliroides

Image Source(s)

Common Brushtail Possum (juvenile) | ©Neil Ross  (Birsbane, Queensland, Australia)

The Common Brushtail Possum, Trichosurus vulpecula (Diprotodontia - Phalangeridae), previously in the genus Phalangista, is a nocturnal, semi-arboreal marsupial native to Australia, and the largest of the possums.

Common Brushtails are inventive and determined foragers with a liking for fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and kitchen raids. They 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 traveling and foraging.