The western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) is a critically endangered small/medium sized arboreal marsupial, with a shrinking distribution in the wild, currently restricted to eucalypt forests in the south-western corner of Western Australia.
Decline in abundance and range of this species can be attributed to habitat loss and fragmentation, predation by foxes, cats and changes in fire regimes. The critically endangered status of this species has encouraged various conservation, protection, and rehabilitation efforts.
The Busselton Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre provides care for injured and orphaned animals, found incidentally in the area, by environmental officers or members of the public. After a structured rehabilitation protocol, possums are released into the wild twice a year. At The UWA, research is underway to monitor animals’ survival, and improve the efficacy of the current housing practices.
In 2019 we visited the centre, to learn and discuss various experimental rehabilitation strategies of orphaned, juvenile possums. In particular, we focussed on practices best suited to releasing individuals, and analysed environmental (biotic and abiotic) factors increasing mortality.