Leadbeater's Possum - Deaths at Healesville Sanctuary

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Leadbeater's Possum - Deaths at Healesville Sanctuary is associated with Healesville, Victoria located at these coordinates -37.6538286, 145.5170063

In the early 1970's, there was little information about Leadbeater's possum to guide captive breeding programs. This report to the Fisheries and Wildlife Division reports on a number of deaths of possums in 1977. The detailed report on the cause of the deaths mentioned in the letter is not held on the file.

Record Citation: PROV VPRS 11559/P1/311
Record URL: http://www.access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewSeries&entityId=11559
Agency: VA 551
Agency URL: http://access.prov.vic.gov.au/public/component/daPublicBaseContainer?component=daViewAgency&entityId=551
Date: 10/2/1977
Record Type: Correspondence
Event Type: Report
Language: en
Copyright URL: http://prov.vic.gov.au/copyright
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User Tags: leadbeater's possum, sir colin mackenzie fauna park, healesville sanctuary, werribee veterinary clinic, graeme g.george, paul presidente

Image Transcript Margin Notes Body of Transcript
Healesville sanc 1.JPG Sir Colin MacKenzie Fauna Park

P.O. Box 248, Healesville, Victoria, 3777, Australia

Fisheries and Wildlife Division



14 FEB 1977

        DIRECTOR:                         CHAIRMAN:                        SECRETARY:
Telephone: (059) 62 4022             Telephone: 85 2138                Telephone: 82 1370

10th February, 1977.

The Secretary,

Fisheries and Wildlife Division,

Ministry for Conservation,

P.O. Box 41,


Dear Sir,

Report on Deaths of Leadbeater's Possum

During the visit by Mr. De Guescelin of your Division on 13th. January to inspect our Leadbeater's Possum, it was noticed that one of the immatures had lost some fur across the back and it was decided to treat the group of three (one adult female and a pair of immatures) for a possible fungal condition. A similar condition had been diagnosed by our Veterinary Consultant in Ringtail Possums a few weeks earlier and was successfully treated by bathing with "Halamid".

The trio was transferred to the Nursery on the 17th. January, bathed in "Halamid" solution and placed together in a small cage. Fleas were found in their fur and bedding and they were dusted with "Fleax" powder. On the 18th they were again bathed in "Halamid", the bedding was changed and their original enclosure washed down with Malawash. On the 19th. a third bath in "Halamid" was given, and some "Ungvita" was again applied to the bare patches of skin on the two immatures. "Ungvita" was again applied on the 20th. and the animals were left alone untill the 28th., apart from routine cleaning and feeding.

At 5 p.m. on the 28th. tje young male was found dead, with bruised throat and front foot pads, and much of the fur matted with either food or ointment. It appeared the animals had been under stress due to their confinement and treatment, so the adult and young female were immediately returned to the original enclosure and placed back in their familiar nest-box.

On the 29th. the two females were caught again and bathed to clean their fur. When dry they were returned to their nest box. They ate little if any food that night and were found ddead the next morning.

The three specimens were sent to Dr. Paul Presidente at the Werribee Veterinary Clinic for detailed post mortem examination on the 1st. February. At our request the carcases of the young male and adult female were eviscerated for P.M. and then frozen for preparation of study skins and skulls at the National Museum. The skin of the young female was digested and sectioned. Dr. Presidente advised by phone, that as we expected, P.M. results indicated stress as the primary cause of death. They found no evidence of a pathological skin condition. A detailed report is expected from Dr. Presidente in due course.

These animals were received by us on 19th. March 1976 as an adult female with two dependant young not long out of the pouch. They have been handled very infrequently, only an occasional check of their progress being made by visual inspection in their nest box each few weeks. As the adult female

Please address all communications to the Director

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Healesville sanc 2.JPG Written text needs transcribing. 2.

appeared to be rearing them successfully they were left alone.

Their weights and measurements were recorded at death and are set out below. The two young were perhaps not as large as they might have been, and the loss of fur occured only in the young, not in the adult. This suggests that the condition of the two young may have been due to nutritional deficiency brought on by a degree of stress through competition with the adult female. As well as keeping a closer watch on ectoparasites, we intend, in the futuere to separate the young for independent rearing, once they cease to be dependent on the mother.

                   Adult Female       Immature Male        Immature Female.

Date               30.1.77             28.1.77               30.1.77

Weight             116.5 gm.            80.3 gm.              76.5 gm.

Total Length       366 mm.             347 mm.               344 mm.

Tail               205 mm.             198 mm.               193 mm.

Hind Foot s.u.      32 mm.              31 mm.                30 mm.

Ear (notch)         28 mm.              25 mm.                25 mm.

Yours faithfully,

Graeme G.George.


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