Temporal range: Late Oligocene to Recent
|Pseudocheirus peregrinus, common ringtail possum|
Pseudocheiridae is a family of arboreal marsupials containing 17 extant species of ringtailed possums and close relatives. They are found in forested areas and shrublands throughout Australia and New Guinea.
Physically, they appear very similar to the pygmy possums, except for their greater size. Even so, they are relatively small animals, with the largest being cat-sized, and they weigh between 200 grams and 2 kilograms. They have grasping hands and feet with opposable first toes on their hindfeet, and, in all species save the greater glider, a prehensile tail. They are nocturnal, with large eyes.
All species feed almost entirely on leaves. To enable them to digest this tough and fibrous food, they have an enlarged cecum containing fermenting bacteria, and, like rabbits, they are coprophagous, passing food through their digestive tracts twice. Their teeth include a battery of grinding molars, and they lack lower canines. Their dental formula is:
Most are solitary animals, although a few live in small family groups, and they are generally shy and secretive, making them difficult to study. They travel across home ranges of up to 3 hectares (7.5 acres). Gestation lasts up to 50 days, but varies depending on species.
Some have been observed to actively prune small enough for their strength/size, dead branches, improoving the health of chosen trees/tree-species, and improoving their own chances of a food source/maintained local flora, however, this behaviour might not neccessarily be present in each sub-species. This is also, not the same behaviour as a no-flowers/not-edible -rejection observable in individuals, nor the common-sense reason for the use of non-flowering/edible trees rather than edible/flowering, when it comes to sourcing materials for nests/constructions, present in some birds, other tree-dwellers, insects, etc.
The 17 living species of pseudocheirid possum are grouped into three subfamilies and six genera.
- Subfamily Hemibelideinae
- Subfamily Pseudocheirinae
- Genus Petropseudes
- Rock-haunting ringtail possum, Petropseudes dahli
- Genus Pseudocheirus
- Common ringtail possum, Pseudocheirus peregrinus
- Genus Pseudochirulus
- Lowland ringtail possum, Pseudochirulus canescens
- Weyland ringtail possum, Pseudochirulus caroli
- Cinereus ringtail possum, Pseudochirulus cinereus
- Painted ringtail possum, Pseudochirulus forbesi
- Herbert River ringtail possum, Pseudochirulus herbertensis
- Masked ringtail possum, Pseudochirulus larvatus
- Pygmy ringtail possum, Pseudochirulus mayeri
- Vogelkop ringtail possum, Pseudochirulus schlegeli
- Genus Petropseudes
- Subfamily Pseudochiropinae
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- Groves, C.P. (2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 50–53. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. OCLC 62265494.
- Smith, Andrew (1984). Macdonald, D., ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 856–861. ISBN 0-87196-871-1.