Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society (1976) 23: 70- 78

Habitat use and movements of the opossum (Trichosurus vulpecula) in a pastoral habitat on Banks Peninsula

Research Article
J. N. Jolly 1,2
  1. Zoology Department, University of Canterbury, Christchurch
  2. Present address: Protection Forestry Division, Forest Research Institute, P.O. Box 106, Rangiora

The habitat use and movements of a population of Australian, brush-tailed opossums, Trichosurus vulpecula (Kerr), were studied by live-trapping, spotlighting and radiotelemetry in a mixed pasture, bush and scrub habitat on Banks Peninsula, New Zealand. Resident opossums had distinct ranges that for some animals varied in position and size and, for all, varied in intensity of use of habitat types during the year. Seasonal foods and breeding behaviour were reasons for shifts in ranges and changes in their sizes. Range sizes seemed to be dependent mainly on the location of the animals' requirements rather than behaviour intrinsic to the opossums themselves. Apples and walnuts were highly favoured foods in autumn and attracted resident animals from up to 1600 m away. Pasture was little used by the population. Habitat use results are compared with previous food analysis studies and discussed in relation to the design of opossum control programmes.