The success of marsupials as introduced species

  • D. P. Gilmore
Part of the Studies in Biology, Economy and Society book series


Marsupials are frequently regarded as inferior and archaic in comparison with their placental counterparts. However, certain marsupials have proved themselves to be capable of not only holding their own, but also rapidly extending their range when introduced into a new environment. This is clearly shown by the successful establishment and rapid spread of the Brush-tailed possum, Trichosurus vulpecula, in New Zealand and the colonisation of certain localities there by six species of wallaby (Figure 10.1) a species of wallaby, Petrogale penicillata, is also firmly entrenched on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian group. In Britain wallabies are successfully established both in the Peak District and in the vicinity of Ashdown Forest, Sussex, and there are large free-ranging groups within the perimeter fences of Whipsnade Zoo, and at Prince Reuss’s Estate in the Black Forest, Germany. Natural spread of numerous marsupials, especially the phalangerids, has also occurred from Australia to New Guinea and on as far as the Solomons to the north-east, Talaut to the north and the Celebes to the west. In North America the opossum, Didelphis virginiana, has extended its range northwards for hundreds of kilometres in historic times. This opossum adapts well to suburban living, too, and has been successfully introduced to some areas of the western United States.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Dunnet, G. M. (1956). A live trapping study of the brush-tailed possum. Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr. C.S.I.R.O. Wildlife Res., 1, 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Fitter, R. S. R (1959). The Ark in our Midst Collins, London.Google Scholar
  3. Gilmore, D. P. (1965). New Zealand’s possum pest. Animals, 7 (18), 498–501.Google Scholar
  4. Gilmore, D. P. (1967a). Present ways of opossum control held to be wasteful failure. New Zealand J. Agr., 115 (4), 50–5.Google Scholar
  5. Gilmore, D. P. (1967b). Foods of the Australian opossum (Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr) on Banks Peninsula Canterbury, and a comparison with other selected areas. New Zealand J. Sci., 10 (1), 235–79.Google Scholar
  6. Gilmore, D. P. (1968). Wallabies in New Zealand. Animals, 11 (2), 62–6.Google Scholar
  7. Gilmore, D. P. (1969). Seasonal reproductive periodicity in the male Australian brush-tailed possum (Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr). J. Zool., London, 157 (1), 75–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Grinnell, J., Dixon, J. S. and Linsdale, J. M. (1937). Fur-bearing Mammals of California, University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  9. Grzimek, B. (1967). Four-legged Australians, Collins, London.Google Scholar
  10. Hall, E. R. and Kelson, K. R (1959). The Mammals of North America Ronald Press, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Kean, R. I. (1959). Bionomics of the brush-tailed opossum Trichosurus vulpecula in New Zealand. Nature, 184, 1388–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kean, R. I. and Pracy, L. T. (1949). Effects of the Australian opossum (Trichosuru, vulpecula Kerr) on indigenous vegetation in New Zealand. Proc. 7th Pacif Sci. Cong. IV Zool., 696–705.Google Scholar
  13. Kirk, H. B. (1920). Report on Australian opossums in New Zealand. Appendices, House of Reps., 1920 H28.Google Scholar
  14. Kramer, R. J. (1971). Hawaiian Land Mammals, Tuttle, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  15. Mason, R. (1958). Foods of the Australian opossum (Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr) in New Zealand indigenous forest in the Orongorongo Valley, Wellington. New Zealand J. Sci., 1, 590–613.Google Scholar
  16. Owen, W. J. and Thomson, J. A. (1965). Notes on the comparative ecology of the common brushtail and mountain possums in Eastern Australia. Victoria Nat., 82, 214–7.Google Scholar
  17. Poole, A. L. and Adams, N. M. (1963). Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand, R. E. Owen, Govt. Printer, Wellington.Google Scholar
  18. Pracy, L. T. (1962). Introduction and liberation of the opossum (Trichosurus vulpecula) into New Zealand. New Zealand Forest Serv. Inf. Ser. 45.Google Scholar
  19. Taylor-Page, F. J. (1970). The Sussex Mammal Report 1969, Sussex Naturalists Trust, Henfield.Google Scholar
  20. Tomich, P. Q. (1969). Mammals in Hawaii, Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  21. Tyndale-Biscoe, H. (1973). Life of Marsupials, Edward Arnold, London.Google Scholar
  22. Wodzicki, K. A. (1950). Introduced Mammals of New Zealand, New Zealand D.S.I.R. Bull. 98.Google Scholar
  23. Wodzicki, K. A. and Flux, J.E.C. (1971). The parma wallaby and its future. Oryx, 11, 40–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Yalden, D. W. and Hosey, G. R (1971). Feral wallabies in the Peak District. J. Zool., London, 165 (4), 513–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. P. Gilmore

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations