Zoo Chat | Bright eyed and bushy tailed after hospital visit

LOOKING UP: One of the two six-month-old brushtail possums that are being cared for at the zoo's wildlife hospital after being orphaned.

LOOKING UP: One of the two six-month-old brushtail possums that are being cared for at the zoo's wildlife hospital after being orphaned.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital is home to all manner of furry and feathered creatures at any given time. Currently, staff at the Wildlife Hospital are caring for two (very cute) baby common brushtail possums, which arrived in early November.

The possums are both females aged around six months.

Sadly, both have been orphaned. One of the babies was found in the zoo grounds, while the other was brought in from a member of the public, who found the baby near Narromine.

Whilst it’s unfortunate these little ones have somehow become separated from their mothers, they are in good hands at the Wildlife Hospital, where they will be cared for until they are old enough to be released.

At this age in the wild, the babies would have already left their mother’s pouch and would be riding on her back. As they become more independent and start to leave their mother for short periods of time, it can be common for them to be separated.

They tend to stay on their mother’s back up until around nine months of age.

Both babies are healthy and well, and are being fed browse (leaves) and a wide variety of tasty fruit and vegetables.

They also get a daily milk supplement feed, to keep their energy levels high. Wildlife Hospital staff are very happy with their progress.

Currently, the babies weigh just 612 and 670 grams respectively. Once they weigh one kilogram, they will be soft released, which means they will be kept in an enclosed area at the release site for a period of time before they are released.

They will be released together, which will help to make the process less stressful for the young animals, and give them the best chance of success for their new life.

They have each been given ear tags and microchips, so that if they are found again in the future, Wildlife Hospital staff will be able to identify them.

These bright eyed, bushy tailed babies are in the best of care, and we’re looking forward to watching them grow bigger and stronger every day!

Did you know?

  • The Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital generally cares for around six baby possums every year.
  • Brushtail possums are native to Australia.
  • As its name suggests, the brushtail possum has a rather bushy tail, which is prehensile at the tip and has a naked patch on the underside, helping it to grip branches.
  • Brushtail possums are one of the most vocal groups of marsupials, communicating with a range of calls, including clicks, grunts, hisses, alarm chatters, guttural coughs, and screeching.