Green Ringtail Possum
Photo: Courtesy of Damon Ramsey
BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide
Green Ringtail Possum: Pseudocheirus
- Greenish coloured soft and thick fur due to mixture of black, grey, yellow and
- Two silvery vertebral stripes, white patches under eyes and ears.
- Thick base to tail. The tail is shorter than the head and body.
- The Green Ringtail Possum has a distinguished resting
posture. It sleeps curled in a tight ball, gripping the
branch with one or both hind feet, and sitting on the base of its coiled
tail, with its forefeet, face and tip of the tail
tucked tightly into its belly.
- Sparse and limited distribution.
- An arboreal animal, but it does descend to the ground only to traverse a gap
between trees. Appears to favour rainforests with tangled thornless vines.
- Daytime roost is an open branch.
- Although mainly nocturnal, the possum may move about during the day as a result
of being disturbed in its daytime roost.
- Its diet consists exclusively of leaves. Figs of several species are favoured.
- Specific eater of leaves of the Shining-leafed Stinging Tree, Pepperwood, Red
Tulip Oak, Flame Kurrajong and the False Stinger.
Social Behaviour: The Green Ringtail Possum is the most solitary of the ringtails. Rarely, a
pair may be seen in the same tree.
It is also the quietest of the ringtails. Adults have never been reported to make
- Can also be viewed, with a spotlight, at the Crater National Park, on the
Malanda falls Environmental Park walking paths, The Curtain Fig Tree and along the roadway
on Thomas Road.
- Other common names for this possum include the Striped Ringtail Possum and the
- It is the only possum known to eat fig leaves. It eats the fig leaves of several
- The Green Ringtail Possum can move rapidly through the canopy, running along
branches and up narrow swaying vines but avoiding leaps except across the forks of major
branches. It is probably the fastest of the ringtails at this type of travel.
- There are 2 teats in the pouch but the female usually only gives birth to one.
This is from August to November. Back-riding young have been recorded from October to
April. It is unknown how long the young stays with its mother once it begins to emerge
from the pouch.
- Predators include the Spotted-tailed Quoll and Rufous Owl.
- Indigenous Australians ate the Green Ringtail Possum in the past, but direct
human predation has never been classed as a serious threat. Clearing of the rainforest is
the greatest threat at present.
- It appears that the Green Ringtail Possum is the most capable of tropical
ringtails to survive in small remnant areas of rainforest. It does not require a den and
as fig trees (not used for commercial timber) are often left standing after logging has
taken place in an area, its food source is preserved.
Green Ringtail Possum: Pseudocheirus
Ringtails are not quite as wide
ranging in their diet as other possums. They may feed on fruits and flowers,
but generally the bulk of their diet is leaves (Egerton 1997). This results
in 'ringtails' being more sluggish and appearing, (how shall I put it?),
rather 'dopey'. They are also usually quieter than many other possums; and
this is reflected in their smaller ears. However, they are excellent
climbers with strongly prehensile tails (Strahan and Cayley 1995). They are
more of a closed forest possum than the 'gliding possums' and the
occasionally terrestrial 'brushtails'. and the highest species diversity of
this group is found in highland rainforests.
The Green Ringtail Possum is a small
cat-sized strictly arboreal possum. It is the only mammal that has green
fur; this appears as olive colour due to a mixture of black, yellow and
There are distinct white patches behind the ears, around the eyes and strips
down the back.
The Green Ringtail Possum is found only in upland rainforests of the Wet
Tropics region of Australia, usually above 300 metres.
Script: Courtesy of Damon Ramsey BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide