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Leadbeater's Possum

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Submitted By MeganeG97
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The Leadbeater's possum and reasons for endangerment.

Its common name is Leadbeater’s Possum, and its scientific name is Gymnobelideus leadbeateri

Well the leadbeater’s possum is a small, speedy, nocturnal possum that is distinguishable by being smaller than the palm of your hand and having a club-shaped tail, which helps the possum carry bark to make is nest for itself and its family. Although they may have the same appearance as a sugar glider, they however are not related. The leadbeater’s possum is the only one of its genus, which makes it so unique.
Its fur coat is off-white on the belly and chest area and has a grey back with a dark strip running down the centre of its back to its tail.
They are mainly found in the South eastern parts of Australia (Central Highlands of Victoria) in Temperate forests and woodlands.

The Leadbeater’s possum was first discovered in 1867, along the Bass river in south Gippsland, and was originally given the name of the Bass River possum.
The possum was then later on named by Professor McCoy, after John Leadbeater, who was a taxidermist for the Nation Museum of Victoria, and was the first to preserve leadbeater’s possum specimens.
In 1909 it was believed that the Leadbeater’s possum had become extinct after no longer being able to be spot in the environment.
However, in 1961, Eric Wilkinson rediscovered the Leadbeater’s possum near Marysville, after 52 years of being thought to be extinct.
In 1971, 10 years after it was rediscovered, the Leadbeater’s possum was declared as a Victorian State Faunal Emblem, alongside the helmeted Honeyeater.

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Diprotodota
Family: Petauridae
Genus: Gymnobelideus
Species: G. Leadbeateri

The leadbeater’s will, sleep during the day in their nest, and will hunt for food during the night.
The leadbeater’s possum’s main diet is insects, such as spiders, moths, tree crickets, and beetles, which is found under tree bark or hanging from bark strips. They will also lick any tree juices, such as sap, nectar and gum that are exudate by sap-sucking insects. They particularly like saps from trees such as wattle and eucalyptus.
Their main sources of carbohydrates and protein are from sap, due to being rich in sugar which gives the energy to the leadbeater’s, and insects which provides most of the Leadbeater’s protein. Protein makes up 20% of the Leadbeater’s diet.

The major forest type of the Leadbeater’s are trees in montane ash forests, such as Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), Alpine Ash (E. delegaatensis), and Shining Ash (E. nitens), which occur at altitudes of 400-1200m above sea level.
Their current range is now confined to an area of 70 x 80km in the Central Highlands of Victoria.
Leadbeater’s possums can be found at two different altitudes. These two altitudes consist of different species of trees that these possums also prefer. these altitudes are sub-alpine forests of Snow gum (E. pauciflora) at altitudes of 1400-1500m above sea level. At altitudes of 110m above sea level, a population of genetically distinct lowland leadbeater’s in lowland swap forests with Mountain Swamp Gum (E.camphora).

The social structure of the Leadbeater’s possum is quite unique amongst mammals.
In a colony of Leadbeater’s for every three males there is one female, with the female being the dominant one.
A female will defend its nest from other females that aren’t related to that female. The males however will help the female to defend the nest.

They reach reproductive maturity at two years old.
Breeding between Leadbeater’s possums are monogamous, and they will remain like this for a life span.
Mating will occur throughout the year, except during February and January. The gestation period is still unknown of a female Leadbeater, as they tend to the habit of mating frequently.
Litter sizes normally consist of one or two young.

Loss of hollow-bearing trees (Zoos Victoria, 2015).
Bush fires (Zoos Victoria, 2015).
Loss of suitable habitats (Zoos Victoria, 2015).
Stochastic events such as disease, drought (Climate change) and collapsing old habitat trees are also threatening the process of the Leadbeater’s possums (Friends of the Leadbeater’s, 2015).

With the loss of hollow-bearing trees, Leadbeater’s are unable to build their nests.
These trees take around 150-200 years to develop in trees.
The cause of the loss of hollow-bearing trees is logging and bush fires. With the loss of hollow-bearing trees, Leadbeater’s are unable to build their nests.

During the 2009 Black Saturday bushfire, a lot of the habitat that the Leadbeater’s possum prefer was destroyed.
This bushfire caused a serious decline in the numbers of Leadbeater’s

Logging of Mountain Ash forests for land and paper production, means that there is less habitat for the Leadbeater’s (Zoos Victoria, 2015).
Fragmentation of suitable habitat by timber harvesting causes isolation between small populations of Leadbeater’s (Friends of the Leadbeater’s, 2015).
With the fragmentation of forests, the Leadbeater's will not move along the ground to move to different colonies due to predation (Friends of the Leadbeater’s, 2015), making it difficult for colonies to breed together.

By using 100% recycled paper products (Toilet paper and printing paper).
Recycle all your paper products at home/work/school.
Put up a “NO JUNK MAIL” sticker on your mail box.
Look for FSC forest certified wood products (sustainably harvested and internationally recognise accreditation.
Inform others on the Leadbeater’s possum and explain how they can help (Friends of the Leadbeater’s possum, 2015).
By visiting one of Victoria’s Zoos (Healesville sanctuary, Melbourne Zoo or Werribee open Range Zoo) will help to support the zoo by doing progams to help fight extinction (Zoos Victoria, 2015)

Zoos Victoria is working to change the fate of species that are been threatened with extinction. However, Healesville sanctuary have tried to do captive breed with the leadbeater’s, which was unsuccessful, and there is no further plan to continue with trying to do captive breeding with the leadbeater’s in the near future.
Friends of the Leadbeater’s possum continue to fight against logging in the central highlands by VicForests.
They are also working with park rangers from Victorian national and state forests to put up nest boxes in areas where a shortage of hollow trees is, allowing for the Leadbeaters to nest in the boxes

The Leadbeater's possum is a small nocturnal mammal that is on the verge of extinction.
They only live in the highlands of Victoria, which is currently being used for logging, decreasing the availability of sustainable habitat for the Leadbeater’s possums.
Zoos Victoria, Friends of the Leadbeater’s possum and other non-profit groups are working tirelessly to work with communities to help save these little mammals from extinction, via informing communities on how to help save them and how you can support these groups and organisations that are helping the Leadbeater's possums already.…...

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