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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Food Preferences of the Brushtail Possum ( Trichosurus vulpecula )


The common brushtail possum ( Trichosurus vulpecula ) has been reported to eat vegetation, fruit, invertebrates, and occasionally fungi, eggs and meat. The relative preference between food types found in the wild, however, has not been investigated systematically in a controlled laboratory study. This research investigated captive possums’ food choice using two different methods of preference assessment. The first experiment involved a single stimulus assessment of possums’ (n = 20) consumption of individually presented food items. More than 75% of possums consumed berries, locusts and mushrooms but fewer than 50% of possums consumed fivefinger, raw chicken and eggs. The second experiment that used a paired stimulus assessment to establish relative preference for those foods revealed that no single food was preferred by all possums. Overall locusts were the most preferred food, followed in order of preference by berries, egg, mushrooms, chicken and foliage. The single stimulus preference assessment confirmed the palatability of foods. The paired stimulus assessment provided a rank order of food preferences.

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