Sunday, 10 April 2011

An elegant Visitor

Striped Possum

This is the Striped Possum, Dactylospila trivirgata; Petaluridae, an infrequent visitor. It is larger than a squirrel and somewhat smaller than a small cat.

It is peculiar in that it has the fourth finger modified into an elongate probing tool. It uses this to pry insect larvae from underneath bark.

It is said to be an insectivore and maybe it was attracted by the moths seen in the blog below. Not much is known about this species so it may be eating some of the fruit as well.

The Striped Possum occurs in rainforests and adjacent eucalypt woodland on the east coast of the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland and north to New Guinea.
These possums have a powerful, unpleasant smell they emit when threatened. Fortunately, this fellow seems to like our place and has never given us the "juice". It is said to be noisy. I hear growls and chattering from the tree tops at times and this fellow may be the culprit.


fnkykntr said...

aww he is so cute, I love possums and Id really like to see a stripy one like this.

Mr. Smiley said...

Hi Hazel
Thanks for your comments. He is really cute but a bit nervous. With all the snakes, owls and big goannas around, I guess he has to be.


randomtruth said...

Wow - very cool. Your tux-wearing possum makes our Virginias look like burlap-sack-wearing bums!

The 4th digit is interesting. We tend to use our index, and the Aye Aye has the long middle finger for probing - both of which feel like natural adaptations of a hand shape. Developing the 4th finger as a tool seems awkward, and begs the question: why not the index or middle?

Camera Trap Codger said...

That is a splendid surprise and a class A possum, or should I say skunk-possum. I recall that London Zoo was breeding this species back in the 70s or so (though it might have been the other stinky possum Dactilonyx). Why not try to get him to use the finger for a hidden treat like a meal worm?

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Dave.
What a stunning creature!
Just beautiful.
I am amazed that it survives in low numbers and yet is not rated as "endangered". Maybe there are lots of them in New Guinea and Irian Jaya?
Anyone would treasure the visit of such a wonderful creature.

HomeBugGardener said...

Interesting convergence with the NA skunks. Here. Great Horned Owls are one of the few known successful predators (as opposed to stinky wannabes) of striped skunks. I wonder if there is a similar nocturnal nasally 'challenged' predator in Queensland?