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Nice necktie

June 5, 2019

One of the most common nocturnal animals in the district is the Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). They are usually seen crouched on a branch high up in a tree. If you do get a chance to see their undersides they have a marking on the chest that looks like a neck-tie (see picture below).

Scent is used by many animals for a variety of purposes – marking territory, defining social organisation, attracting mates, etc. and the Common Brushtail Possum is no exception. The Brushie has two areas on its body that have specialised scent producing glands. One is near the cloaca (rear opening) and the other is the sternum (breastbone).

As possums mature they develop an area of reddish-brown hair on the chest up to 10cm long and 3cm wide. This area has a high density of scent producing glands. The density of glands is influenced by a number of factors such as gender, age of the animal and season.

Both male and female possums scent mark trees, rocks, etc. by rubbing them with their chests (chesting). This leaves an orange to brown stain on the object and also on their fur. It is still unclear as to the purpose of these markings. Koalas are also known to exhibit this behaviour.

So I now know what I thought was a neck-tie is not. It makes scents.

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