(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

The striped possum or widespread striped possum, scientific name Dactylopsila trivirgata is a member of the marsupial family Petauridae.

Striped Possum Profile

The species is black with three white stripes working head to tail, and its head has white stripes that kind a ‘Y’ form. It is carefully associated with the sugar glider and is analogous in look.

It emits a “very powerful unpleasant smell.” It is noisy and growls. During the day it curls up on an uncovered branch and sleeps.

The feminine striped possum has two teats in her pouch and may give beginning to as much as two younger. However, not so much is understood of its breeding habits.

It is most simply discovered by the sound it makes chewing and consuming within the forest. The striped possum is, without doubt, one of the least identified marsupials. The species is just not thought of to be threatened.

The degree to which feminine widespread striped possums present to care for his or her younger is just not identified. Males haven’t been documented to participate in offering for the offspring.

Females will carry their offspring on their back after weaning, however, it’s not identified for the way long. The provisioning of post-weaning meals to the younger is just not identified both.

Pollen, nectar, flowers, sap, and fruit additionally contribute to the diet of striped possums. These gadgets, nonetheless, comprise little or no of the total diet. Interestingly, striped possums have been noticed consuming small mammals in captivity.

Striped Possum

Geographic Range

Common striped possums, Dactylopsila trivirgata inhabit Australia and New Guinea, together with some close-by islands.

In Australia they’re restricted to northeastern Queensland, starting from the tip of the Cape York Peninsula within the north to Mt. Spec within the south. They are widespread over this restricted range, however is sort of uncommon. In New Guinea, they’re much more widespread and distributed all through the lowlands and foothills.


The striped possum lives in rainforests and eucalypt woodland alongside the east coast of Cape York Peninsula and as far south as Townsville in Queensland, Australia, however, is more generally present in New Guinea, in addition to a number of different small islands within the space (together with the Solomon Islands). Uncommon and barely seen in Australia.

Striped Possum Description

This possum seems like a black and white squirrel. It is solitary, principally nocturnal, arboreal, and builds nests in tree branches. The body size is approx. 263 mm long, tail 325 mm, and weight 423 g.

The striped possum’s tail is prehensile. Its fourth finger is elongated relative to the others (just like the third finger of the aye-aye, a lemur present in Malagasy rainforests) and is used to take beetles and caterpillars from tree bark, making it a “mammalian woodpecker”.

The striped possum additionally eats leaves, fruits, and small vertebrates. Its primary diet consists of wood-boring insect larvae, that are extracted from rotten branches probing with its elongated fourth finger and its highly effective incisor teeth that are used to tear open tree bark to reveal bugs.

It detects the larvae by speedy drumming alongside branches with the toes of its forefoot. The fourth finger has an uncommon hooked nail which it makes use of to extract bugs out of cracks.

Striped PossumHabitat

Striped Possumis very arboreal and lives nearly completely in lowland tropical rainforest and adjoining woodlands. Within this habitat, it mostly inhabits vine forests, riparian woodlands, and monsoonlands. Individuals are generally noticed feeding in more open eucalypt (Eucalyptus spp.) and melaleuca woodlands.

The human alteration and destruction of rainforests could have a number of environmental impacts on this species. In fragmented landscapes, Striped Possumrequires habitat corridors that are linked to giant tracts of steady forest.

These forests should additionally include giant bushes over 30 cm DBH, as a result of widespread striped possums need giant bushes with hollows for den sites.

Striped PossumPhysical Characteristics

Striped Possumis a mid-sized possum with exceptional black and white coloration. The coarse pelage is characterized by three longitudinal variable black stripes.

The center stripe runs from the front of the pinnacle to the tip of the tail, whereas the lateral stripes start on the muzzle and course over the eyes and ears to the rump. Branches from the lateral stripes proceed down the skin of every limb.

The fur of juvenile and subadult animals shows the sharp distinction between the black and white markings. The fur of adults displays more gradual transitions between black and white markings and white areas change into more gray with age.

The distinct bushy tail is significantly longer than the body and is normally darker on top with the tip being both black or white.

Striped Possum

Common striped possums have a number of distinctive morphological characters. They possess an elongated tongue and fourth finger, long incisors, and a rounding of the braincase.

The fourth finger is almost twice the size of the next, and the procumbent decrease incisors of Dactylopsila have the best relative size of any possum.

In addition, the first higher incisors challenge ahead. All of those are almost certainly specialized feeding diversifications. The rounding of the braincase makes it possible for Striped Possumto have the most important mind in relation to its body weight of any marsupial.

Striped Possum Communication

Striped possums make at the least two kinds of vocalizations. They ceaselessly call in a raspy guttoral “gar-gair, gar-gair” method. These vocalizations are adopted by a social aggregation of two or three people.

This call is recommended to play a job within the species’ mating system and in addition, appears to be used for different social groupings.

The different sort of call is a misery call that’s used repeatedly when an animal feels threatened. The misery vocalization is a sequence of 5-6 creaking “frog-like” calls that descend in pitch (“erreeh”). This means that Striped Possumcould reveals a high degree of sociality.

The pungent scent of striped possums could also be a predator deterrent, but in addition, would possibly play a job within the social communication of the species. Further analysis is required on this space.


Striped Possum is a number to many species of parasites. The first information of sure parasite species has been comprised of striped possums. Ixodes holocyclus Neumann and Ixodes cordifer Neumann are each parasite of D. trivirgata, together with at the least two species of intranasal mites from the family Trombiculidae.

Striped Possum Food Habits

Striped Possum is a generalist insectivore that eats primarily social bugs, comparable to ants and termites, and wood-boring larvae of beetles and moths. It is more reliant on invertebrates than different members of the Petauridae, which is recommended not solely by observations of foraging and abdomen contents, but in addition by the simplicity and shortness of the digestive tract.

In specific, the size of the caecum, an organ utilized in fermentation, is considerably shorter in Striped Possum than in Petaurus breviceps and Gymnobelideus leadbeateri.

Striped possums eat bugs from at least eight orders, together with Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Isoptera, Blattodea, Orthoptera, Hemiptera, and Diptera. The bugs that contribute most to the diet of striped possums are moth and beetle larvae, ants, termites, and crickets.

The high frequency of wood-boring larvae and social bugs in abdomen samples means that Striped Possum targets these high-energy meals. The fats contained in these things are between 20 and 44%.

Striped Possum

Many uncommon diversifications permit Striped Possum to achieve success as an arboreal insectivore. It makes use of its forepaws to faucet quickly on wooden to find larvae.

Once the bugs are situated, the highly effective jaws and tooth orientation of striped possums make them great at excavating bark and wooden from dwelling and lifeless bushes.

Ant and termite eggs present in abdomen contents means that Striped Possum makes use of its jaws to interrupt insect mounds too. The striped possum has a dexterous elongated fourth finger that’s used for gathering wood-boring larvae whereas it’s excavating bushes.

The fourth digit is very delicate and a few observations recommend that it’s used to discriminate totally different vibration frequencies of assorted bugs and larvae.

The fourth finger is so delicate that it represents 10% of your entire major somatosensory space (SI) of the mind. This compares to a 4-5% illustration of the SI for the fourth digit of northern quolls, Dasyurus hallucatus.

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Striped Possum Behavior

Striped Possum is a nocturnal, arboreal insectivore. It is most energetic from 2100 hours to 0550 hours and will spend as much as 9 hours foraging every night. It forages in bushes of various sizes, starting from 10 cm DBH to 110 cm DBH.

Striped Possum seems for meals on dwelling bushes, lifeless snags, downed bushes, and rotting logs. The species most frequently feeds within the cover of the forest, however has been noticed feeding in adjoining open lands so far as 400 meters from the sting of the woods. It forages from the trunk to the cover at the least as high as 33 meters.

While feeding and searching for meals, striped possums transfer quickly by means of the cover leaping from tree to tree, conducting long-distance jumps with precision.

Striped Possum

Striped Possum has a lithe gait that offers limb motion a definite ‘rowing’ movement. The feeding exercise of Striped Possum may be very noisy because it rustles by means of the leaves, scratching, and snorting. When it stops feeding, a lot of particles fall to the forest flooring and the loud sound of chewing and slurping has been famous by a number of researchers.

The adult male striped possum is usually solitary, besides throughout breeding season. Males den alone. Juveniles and females typically have been discovered denning collectively.

Striped Possum dens through the day in dry leaf nests in tree hollows or on mats of epiphytes. Both men and women use quite a lot of den sites, that are unfold all through their dwelling range. Dens are at all times in forest bushes that have a DBH over 30 cm. Cordia dichotoma is a standard den tree species.

Striped Possum Reproduction

Not a lot is understood in regards to the mating programs of Striped Possum. Observations recommend that there’s intense male rivalry for breeding females. Males chase one another and make threatening, raucous vocalizations when in shut contact.

While coupled, each female and male repeatedly make loud, guttural vocalizations (“gar-gair, gar-gair”) and intertwine and thrash their tails about. According to a single remark, copulation lasts roughly ten minutes.

Limited analysis has been carried out on the breeding biology of Striped Possum. Observations of mating in Australia have been comprised of February to August, and from January to October in New Guinea. This suggests a breeding seasonality.

The breeding peak in Australia in June to July. Females have well-developed pouches with two mammae. They have one to 2 younger, however nearly at all times have two. The breeding interval for this species is just not identified. No detailed information has been documented on the event of younger and the age to sexual maturity.

Striped Possum

Striped Possum Predation

In New Guinea, indigenous peoples hunt D. trivirgata for meals and skins. Amesthistine pythons (Morelia amethistina) additionally prey on striped possums.

These pythons are widespread within the Australian habitat of Striped Possum and will have a big influence on younger. Barking owls (Ninox connivens) and rufous owls (Ninox rufa) occupy the same areas and are identified to feed on arboreal mammals, however, have by no means been noticed taking Striped Possum.

In open areas, Striped Possum is sort of cryptic, as a result of its contrasting black and white coloration. The white markings make it troublesome to make out when there are openings within the cover that permit beams of light to penetrate.

Dactylopsila trivirgata possesses a foul, pungent odor. Its scent is alleged to be worse than different marsupial scents, which might be fairly highly effective. The function of the odor is just not identified, but it surely has been steered that it’s an enemy deterrent.

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