Species profile

Daintree River Ringtail Possum

Daintree River Ringtail Possum

Range and abundance

The Daintree River Ringtail Possum is restricted to high elevation rainforests in the northern part of the Wet Tropics of north Queensland. The species occurs as three separate populations on Thornton Peak, Mount Windsor Tableland and Mount Carbine Tableland. There are no robust estimates of abundance: the species is regularly encountered when spotlighting in montane rainforests along the Mt Lewis road.

Description

The Daintree River Ringtail Possum resembles the Common Ringtail Possum of eastern Australia in size, with a body length of 335 - 370 mm and a tail 320 - 395 mm long. Adults weigh 700 - 1200 g. Fur is a pale caramel fawn to dark brown above and paler below. There is a dark longitudinal stripe from between the eyes to the lower back. The terminal third of the tail is white.

Ecology

Like other rainforest ringtail possums in north Queensland, the Daintree River Ringtail Possum is restricted to upland and highland forests. It has been recorded above 420 m altitude and is most abundant above 700 m in cool, high rainfall, misty tropical rainforest. It is arboreal, though not a very agile climber, and feeds at night on the leaves of rainforest trees and some fruits. It is commonly observed in rainforest pioneer plants and has a preference for trees such as Bleeding Heart and Alphitonia. It can be often seen feeding in these trees along the edges of the Mt Lewis road in Brooklyn Wildlife Sanctuary. It is mostly solitary, and during the day it is believed to shelter in tree hollows and clumps of epiphytes. Once out of the pouch, young are carried on the back of the mother for a time; larger young may be ‘parked’ in a low tree while the mother forages. Natural predators include the Sooty Owl, Spotted-tailed Quoll and the Carpet and Amethystine Pythons.

Threats

Most of the habitat of the Daintree River Ringtail Possum is protected within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. In the long term, increasing temperatures are likely to pose a threat to the Daintree River Ringtail Possum. The restriction of rainforest possums to high elevation forests is thought to reflect their intolerance of high temperatures. 


What is AWC doing?

AWC protects montane rainforest on Brooklyn Wildlife Sanctuary. AWC facilitates monitoring of montane rainforest by researchers from James Cook University.

Did you know:

The Daintree River Ringtail Possum was once thought to be a lighter colour variant of the black and white Herbert River Ringtail Possum which inhabits rainforests in the southern part of the Wet Tropics of north Queensland. Juvenile Herbert River Ringtail Possums have caramel coloured fur, like their northern cousin.