Leadbeater's Possum - Warneke memorandum 1962

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'Leadbeater's Possum - Warneke memorandum 1962 is associated with ' located at these coordinates -37.5579634, 145.881679

In 1962, Warneke from the Fisheries and Wildlife Division and emebers of the Fauna Survey Group from the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria attempted to determine the range of the possum in the Central Highlands. This early report has important observations on the habitat needs of the possum. There is a link to the map referred to in the report.

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: 11/5/1962
Record Type: Memorandum
Event Type:
Language: en
Copyright URL: http://prov.vic.gov.au/copyright
Related Resource URL: http://wiki.prov.vic.gov.au/index.php/Leadbeater%27s_Possum_-_Known_Distribution_of_Leadbeater%27s_Possum_from_observations_made_up_to_May_1962
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User Tags: leadbeater's possum, r.m.warneke, field naturalists club of victoria, fauna survey group

Image Transcript Margin Notes Body of Transcript
Warneke 1962 page 1.jpg RMW/LT

Memorandum. 10th May


11 MAY 1962


Leadbeater's Possum

Report on the known distribution of Gymnobelideus leadbeateri from observations in the Marysville district up to May, 1962.

The present limits of the colony, as indicated on the attached map, have been determined from observations made by members of the Fauna Survey Group of the F.N.C.V. and by myself. The three specimens at present housed in the Wildlife Laboratory were obtained from about the centre of this distribution.

The initial observation, reported by Wilkinson in the Vic. Nat. 78: 99, was made at Cumberland Valley. No further sightings in this locality have been reported, however Gymnobelideus has been observed in numbers on many occasions in the Tommy's Bend area. The survey work has been done only along the roads in the area. At this stage it is impossible to say just where the limits of the possum's disribution occur; it appears however that it is confined to Mountain Ash (E. regnans) forest.

Vegetation: At the western end of the mapped distribution the character of the vegetation changes from Mountain Ash-Messmate to Messmate-Stringybark forest. Some distance from the eastern extremity of the range Shining Gum (E. nitens) becomes the dominant eucalypt. As yet the possum has not been seen in either the Stringybark or the shining Gum areas. There is a recurrence of E. regnans in the Cumberland Valley.

The physical nature of the Mountain Ash forest in the Tommy's Bend area is worthy of note as it appears to be a particularly suitable habitat for a possum with the characteristics of Gymnobelideus. Much of it is composed of saplings about 30 to 40 feet in height, frequently occurring in dense thickets. There are numerous, over-mature trees, some exceeding 200 feet in height. Many of these are dead, dry trunks with few upper limbs left. there is often an extensive understory of wattles and other small trees which form an almost continuous foliage layer well below the eucalypt canopy.

Gymnobelideus is extremely active and moves about the trees with great speed and agility. It appears to rely largely on the grip of the large toe-pads of the manus and pes, the latter having the third digit quite elongate. This allows the possum to secure a very sure footing while leaving the hands free for feeding etc. Thus Gymnobelideus is well adapted for movement on thin branches and narrow trunks of saplings and small trees. The denseness of the understory and the canopy above enables the possum to range through the forest without decending to the ground. It is thought that night flying moths form part of the diet, in which case the nature of the vegitation permits rapid pursuit of slow-flying insects by such an animal with no other means of progression. (Compare with the Suger Glider, Petaurus breviceps, which also eats moths, sometimes leaping from a branch to seize on in mid-air).

It is suspected that the old, dead trunks with hollows and spouts are the nesting sites of Gymnobelideus. In this respect these old trees are important to all other species of the Phalangeridae that occur in the area, namely, Mountain Possum, Trichosurus caninus; Ringtailed Possum, Pseudocheirus laniginosus, Greater Glider, Schoinobates volans; Sugar Glider, Petaurus breviceps and Feathertailed Glider, Acrobates pygmaeus.

Control of the area: is vested in the Forests Commision and the M.M.B.W. The Green areas on the attached map represent Permanent Forest, the pink area the O'Shannassy catchment, M.M.B.W. Reserve granted 28.1.1910.

Image Transcript Margin Notes Body of Transcript
Warneke 1962 page 2.jpg 2.

The Permanent Forest includes parts of the Parish of Steavenson, County of Anglesey; Parish of Taponaga, County of Wonnangatta; Parish of Manango, County of Evelyn. The M.M.B.W. Reserve is in the Parish of Manango.


Considering that little is known of the habitats of the species and that it appears to be restricted within one vegetation type, every care should be taken to ensure that the habitat is not interfered with or altered in any way. It is most likely that the possum ranges some distance from the roads into the surrounding forest. The M.M.B.W. Reserve should be a safe retreat. If the F.C.V. allows logging or the felling of cull trees (usually those containing nesting hollows) then the colony could be seriously affected. Perhaps the most serious threat is the existence of the Marysville-Cumberland Road which passes through the possum's habitat. Any practice affecting the roadside vegetation will affect the possum - many have been seen in trees beside the road. In 1961 some streatches of roadside scrub near Marysville were fired, evidently to clear away bracken and grasses. The danger of this practice in or near the possum's habitat is obvious. As there are several clearings in the immediate area where fires have been lit by campers and tourists, it would be most desirable that camping should be forbidden anywhere along the road. Camping facilities are available at Marysville and fire places are provided at Cumberland Creek.

It is recommended that the various authorities concerned be informed of the situation so that steps can be taken to ensure that the habitat has adequate protection. It should be requested that this Department be informed of any intended developments which might involve the area in question.

The authorities concerned are:-

Forests Commission of Victoria

Metrop. Board of Works

Country Roads Board

Healesville Shire Council

Perhaps at a later date, when more detailed knowledge of the possum's range is available, the Department can press for reservation of the area.

The Director of Fisheries & Wildlife,



Research Officer.


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