The Leadbeater's Possum

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by TammyKoo
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The Leadbeater's Possum

The Leadbeater's Possum

IntroductionLeadbeater possums were presumed extinct until 1961 when a single possum was found by a naturalist named Eric Wilkinson near Marysville which is 90 minutes away from Melbourne. In 1968 the Leadbeater possum was made the official faunal emblem of Victoria. It is also known as the Fairy Possum.The Leadbeater's Possum is a tiny, nocturnal creature with large eyes and a long tail measuring around 10 to 15cm in length. There is now estimated to be around 1500 Leadbeater's Possums remaining in the entire world. The possums live in a matriarchal society where the female dominate and only on pair in the entire colony of 12 will breed. They live for around 5 years in the wild and up to 13.5 years in captivity.

Where does this animal live?They live in the central highlands of Victoria and also in Cockatoo Swamp near Yellingbo. Leadbeater possums like living in stags which are very large, dead or dying trees that are usually over 200 years old in Mountain Ash forests. They nest in the large hollow trunks of these trees.

What are the threats to your animal?Bushfires are very high level threats to the Leadbeater’s possum, this is evident as up to 50% of their habitat was destroyed by the Black Saturday fires (2009) in the Marysville community. Land clearing, deforestation, habitat degradation and livestock farming and grazing also have an enormous effect on the Leadbeater possum community. The possums are also very prone to attacks from owls, which are their natural predators.

What makes it unique to Australia?Like many other Australian possums, the Leadbeater’s Possum have a pouch the use to harbour their young in. this pouch is located on the underside of the animal, making it rather inconspicuous. These animals also only tend to make nests inside certain types of trees that take more than 150 years to grow. These nesting trees make the perfect environment for the possums to live and build their nests in.

What can humans do to help elevate these threats?To help elevate some of these threats that threaten the possum community, we are able to stop clearing and deforesting unnecessary land. This will help a lot as Leadbeater’s possums are only able to live and nest in certain types of trees that take very long to grow. Humans are also able to stop farming animals and allowing them to graze where the Leadbeater possums live. This will stop introduced and domesticated animals from ruining the habitat and eating all the food that the possums eat.We are also able to prevent heavy damage from bushfires by using some techniques such as back burning. The public is also able to help by donating to certain organisations and volunteering in zoos/ organisations to help (Friends of Leadbeater's Possum , Act Wild, Healesville Sanctuary, Melbourne Zoo or Werribee Open Range Zoo).We also have breeding programs in place to make sure that their numbers do not drop too much. Research is also conducted on these animals to learn more about them and help prevent them from extinction.


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