Dactylopsila trivirgata, 1858

Russell A. Mittermeier & Don E. Wilson, 2015, Petauridae, Handbook of the Mammals of the World – Volume 5 Monotremes and Marsupials, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 52-565 : 560

publication ID

https://doi.org/ 10.5281/zenodo.6656820



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scientific name

Dactylopsila trivirgata



Torresian Striped Possum

Dactylopsila trivirgata View in CoL

French: Triok rayé / German: Gro3er Streifenbeutler / Spanish: Falangero rayado de Torres

Other common names: Common Striped Possum, Striped Possum

Taxonomy. Dactylopsila trivirgata Gray, 1858


Aru Islands, Indonesia.

Four subspecies are recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution.

D. t. trwvirgata Gray, 1858 — West Papuan Is (Waigeo), W New Guinea, including Yapen I in Cenderawasih (= Geelvink) Bay, and Aru Is.

D. t. katau: Matschie, 1916 — C & S New Guinea near the Fly River.

D. t. melampus Thomas, 1908 — E Papua New Guinea.

D. t. picata Thomas, 1908 — NE Queensland from Iron Range to Mt Spec (in Paluma Range N of Townsville), NE Australia. View Figure

Descriptive notes. Head—body 24-28 cm, tail 32-39 cm; weight 428-545 g (males) and 310-475 g (females). This species can be distinguished from the Great-tailed Striped Possum (D. megalura) by its much less furred tail, from the Long-fingered Striped Possum (D. palpator) by having a shorter fourth digit of forelimb, and from Tate’s Striped Possum (D. tater) by its much longertail.

Habitat. In New Guinea, generally occurs in lowland and lower montane forests. In Australia, subspecies picata inhabits tropical rainforest and adjacent woodland.

Food and Feeding. One of this possum’s primary food items is wood-boring beetle larvae. It uses the powerful lower and upper incisors to gouge and lever away bark and wood; when a cavity is opened, it employs its elongated fourth digit to stab the larva and pull it out. Other food items include social insects (such as ants and termites, crickets, beetles, moths, and cockroaches), hemipteran insects (including cicadas and spiders), fruit, exudates (including Acacia sap and nectar), and potentially pollen.

Breeding. Limited data suggest that this species breeds throughout the year, but there may be a peak (in Australian populations) between March and June. Female produces one or two young at a time. In New Guinea, a female with young was found in January, two were found in October, and a female carrying a young male on her back was found in September.

Activity patterns. Nocturnal. During the day the animals sleep in leafy nests in tree hollows or occasionally in clumped epiphytes. Limited observations of dens found these to be in vine forest, in trees with diameter at breast height greater than 30 cm.

Movements, Home range and Social organization. Little information is available on the home range of the Torresian Striped Possum, being limited to that of a smaller male (weighing 290 g) that had a home range of c. 5-2-6-5 ha and a larger male (weighing 415 g) that had a home range of about 21-3 ha. This species makes frequent guttural, two-syllable calls (“gar-gair, gar-gair”); when caught by a predator,it emits a very loud distress call, and other individuals rapidly approach the sound, which suggests a type of mobbing behavior. Individuals have been found denning alone or with young in trees throughout the home range. Pairs have been observed also to share dens, suggesting some degree of sociality. In addition, they appear to rotate the use of dens frequently, perhaps to reduce predation by amethystine pythons (Morelia amethistina) and potentially owls.

Status and Conservation. Classified as Least Concern on The IUCN Red List. This species has a wide distribution, with a presumed large population, and occurs within several protected areas; it is to some degree fairly tolerant of habitat modification. It is abundant in suitable habitat in New Guinea;in its limited Australian range, it is common in the lowlands and uncommon at higher elevations. Within New Guinea, the main threat to this petaurid is deforestation associated with subsistence agriculture;it is also hunted for food, butthis is not considered a major threat. There are no serious threats to its survival in Australia. Overall, the Torresian Striped Possum is unlikely to be declining at a rate even approaching that required forit to be considered threatened.

Bibliography. Flannery (1994a, 1995a), Handasyde (2000, 2008), Handasyde & Martin (1996), Hide et al. (1984), Rawlins & Handasyde (2002), Salas, Dickman, Helgen, Burnett & Martin (2008), Smith, A.P (1982a), Van Dyck (1979b).











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