Trichosurus caninus Click to enlarge image
Short-eared Possum, female with her young. Image: R & D Keller/Nature Focus
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    Up to 50 cm

Stocky possum with short round ears, strong claws and a black bushy tail that narrows towards the end.


A large stocky possum with short round ears, strong claws and a black bushy tail that narrows towards the end and is naked underneath and at the tip. The dorsal fur is dark grey; the belly fur and throat are white, cream or pale grey, although entirely black individuals can be found in some areas.


Wet sclerophyll forest and rainforests from sea level to 1600 m, occasionally found in riverine vine thickets or mangrove edges.


Restricted to moist forests of SE Australia extending from southern Queensland to around Newcastle in NSW.

Feeding and diet

At night they forage in trees or on the ground, eating shrub leaves, buds, flowers, fruit, fungi, lichen and occasionally tree bark.

Other behaviours and adaptations

This species was revised in 2002 and populations south of around Newcastle are now recognised as a separate species, T. cunninghami. Short-eared Possums are largely solitary and nocturnal, sheltering by day in nests inside tree hollows or fallen logs.

Breeding behaviours

Breeding occurs from around March-May and a single young is born after 15-17 days gestation. It spends 5-6 months in the pouch and another 2-5 months suckling and riding on the mother’s back before becoming independent.

Conservation status

The distribution and abundance of this species appears stable at present although land clearing for agriculture and forestry pose a threat in some areas.


Their main predators include dingoes, wild dogs, pythons and Spotted-tailed Quolls.

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