Common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) as a management model for the Pseudocheiridae: Reproductive scope, behavior, and biomedical values on a browse‐free diet

Miles Roberts, Lyndsay Phillips, Frank Kohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purposes of this study were to determine 1) the life history characteristics of a captive colony of the arboreal folivore Pseudocheirus peregrinus maintained on a browse free diet under enhanced laboratory conditions, 2) the direction and magnitude of life history differences from wild population values, and 3) the feasibility of developing captive colonies of this and related species for conservation and research programs. Rates of reproduction, growth, and development; demographic trends; behavioral patterns pertinent to exhibition; and management and medical techniques are reported. Fecundity was 67% greater than that of wild populations and there was an approximate four‐fold increase in the rate of offspring survival to sexual maturity. These trends were due largely to reduced post‐pouch emergence mortality and the decay of reproductive seasonality. The results indicate that a properly designed “artificial” diet can support significantly enhanced reproduction in a trophic specialist. Other demographic, developmental, and behavioral measures found to be consistent with those reported from wild populations indicate that there was no significant life history distortion caused by the management regime. Empirical data are presented showing that the common ringtail is nocturnal, has low rates of activity, and has specific space and substrate preferences. These results suggest ways in which the animals' physical environment can be manipulated to improve exhibition. We conclude that the reproductive rates of other ringtail possum species might also be enhanced under comparable management conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-41
Number of pages17
JournalZoo Biology
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • captive biology
  • husbandry
  • life history
  • reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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