Herbert River Ringtail
Photo: C & D Frith
Australia's Wet Tropics
Herbert River Ringtail Possum:
- Colours can vary from almost black to pale fawn above, with white chests and
- The fawn species tend to have a longitudinal median dark stripe on the head.
- Pointed face
- Tapered tail.
- Fairly sparse and limited in distribution.
- The Herbert River Ringtail Possum lives above an altitude of about three hundred
metres in the dense rainforest of North Queensland.
- An arboreal animal, it rarely descends down to the ground.
- Strictly a nocturnal animal, tree hollows are the favoured daytime resting site
as well as large clumps of epiphytic ferns.
- The bulk of its diet is received from rainforest leaves, but it
occasionally eats fruits such as the Silver Quandong and flowers of trees such as the Bumpy Satin Ash.
- It is a solitary animal, dens are not shared by adults.
- Groups of two or three have been seen in the same tree at night, but this is
probably due to the males being attracted to females on heat.
- Vocally, adults give a buccal click under stress and a variety of screeches and
grunts when antagonised.
- At Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodge when there is new growth on the closest
large tree to lodge 4, Herbert River Ringtail Possums can be seen feeding. Sightings are
also common along the top road.
- 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
- Another name for the Herbert River Ringtail Possum is the Mongan.
- There are two subspecies, the Pseudocheirus herbertensis herbertensis (Kuranda
south) and the Pseudocheirus herbertensis cinereus (Mount Lewis north).
- It is evenly but sparsely distributed throughout this range, with 0.5 to 3
individuals being seen per hour of spotlighting, giving them a status of sparse and
- When resting (during the day) it likes to position itself tree hollows in the
rainforest, but sometimes large groups of epiphytic ferns are used instead.
- It has a nest similar to that of the Common Ringtail Possum, reported to have
been seen in areas of low swampy rainforest to areas of open forest. These are probably
built when holes are not available.
- They have a forward-opening pouch with two teats, and two young are usually
reared. These have been recorded from March to October, and newly emerged young throughout
the year but with a noticeable peak in October.
- Discovered by Lumholtz in the Herbert River Valley
during the 1880's.
- Average life span 4 - 5 yrs.
- Gestation period is approximately 13 - 14 days.
- Pouch life is 4 to 5 months, indicating a mating peak between April and May. The
young ride on their mothers back for a short amount of time before being left in the
nest to make increasingly longer forays, as they become older.
- When separated from their mothers, the young produce a very quiet high-pitched
rapid chatter that leads the mother to move towards them again.
- This possum was once hunted by Aborigines with the aid of a climbing cane and
searching in fern clumps.
- Carpet snakes are known to be predators of the Herbert River Ringtail Possum, but
the greatest threat is rainforest clearing. Long term effects of selective logging are not
known, but the possum is still present in forests which have been logged.
River Possum Photos