Macquarie University
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Management of urban common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula)

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posted on 2022-03-28, 22:55 authored by Jutta Eymann
The common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) is indeed a common inhabitant of many Australian citites, and one of the few marsupials that has adapted well to the urban environment. Their close proximity to people provides a great opportunity to experience native wildlife in the backyard, however, their utilization of house roofs, bold behaviour and appetite for garden plants often leads to conflict with householders. Population numbers are sufficiently high to require ongoing management to minimise negative impacts for humans and brushtail possums alike in a socially acceptable manner. The aim of this thesis was to identify current management issues and address the need for improved and novel management strategies. The potential of slow-release implants, containing the GnRH agonist deslorelin, as a contraceptive agent for brushtail possums was tested on a captive population. Males appeared resistant to treatment, but deslorelin was found to inhibit reproduction in female brushtail possums for at least one breeding season, making it a promising tool to control fertility in some wild populations. A further aim was to trial deslorelin implants on a wild urban population, to collect more information about the urban biology of this species and to point out issues which have previously not been addressed. Close proximity and interaction of urban brushtail possums with humans and their domestic animals can increase the risk of disease exposure and transmission and influence the health of wild populations. Serosurveys showed that animals were readily exposed to Leptospira spp. and Toxoplasma gondii. This thesis also provides the first data on brushtail possum dispersal in urban areas, knowledge which is highly relevant to the development of management strategies such as fertility control. The findings from this research broaden our knowledge about urban brushtail possums and should assist wildlife authorities in developing alternative or improved management procedures.


Table of Contents

Preface -- Management issues of urban common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula): a loved or hated neighbour -- Effects of deslorelin implants on reproduction in the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) -- Brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in metropolotan Sydney: population biology and response to contraceptive implants -- Strategic survey for Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum in the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) from urban Sydney, Australia -- Leptospirosis serology in the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) from urban Sydney, Australia -- Conclusions.


Thesis by publication -- 8 co-authored articles. Includes bibliographical references

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Division of Environmental and Life Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences

Department, Centre or School

Department of Biological Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Herbert Cathy

Additional Supervisor 1

Des Cooper

Additional Supervisor 2

Mariella Herberstein


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Jutta Eymann 2007.




New South Wales


xxv, 287 p. ill., maps

Former Identifiers

mq:318 1081468