Standard image of the new scientist

Endangered possums find refuge in back gardens in Western Australia

By Jake Buehler

A western ringtail possum resting in a weeping peppermint tree in Busselton, Western Australia

Steven David Miller /

Critically endangered marsupials have taken up residence in private gardens in West Australian neighborhoods. These urban environments represent a much-needed refuge as their habitats have been restricted by human activity and natural predators.

Western ringtail possums (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) are nocturnal, cat-sized creatures that live in trees and shrubs and eat leaves and fruits. They were once located in much of southwest Australia, but habitat loss and the predators of invasive red foxes have dramatically reduced their range to three.