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Honey Possum: Tarsipedidae

Physical Characteristics

Honey possums are very small and highly specialized marsupial mammals. Despite their name, honey possums do not actually make or eat honey—instead, they have unique physical features that help them to feed primarily on the pollen and nectar from flowers. They are very small and have long tongues to pull the nectar or pollen out from inside a flower. Their heads are long and tapered, and they are covered in coarse, short hair. Except for three black stripes down the middle of their back, their coloring is a grayish brown.

Male honey possums weigh only 0.24 to 0.38 ounces (7 to 8 grams). Female possums weigh slightly more, between 0.28 and 0.56 ounces (8 to 16 grams). From the tip of their nose to the end of their body (excluding the tail) they are only between 2.6 and 3.5 inches (6.5 to 9 centimeters) long.

Honey possums have long tails, as long or longer than their bodies. They use this tail to help them climb along branches between flowers. The tip of the tail is prehensile, meaning that the honey possum can use it to grasp objects. It is almost hairless, which also helps to improve its grip. Honey possums are often seen hanging upside down by their tails. They also have very long tongues, which they can extend beyond their mouth even further than the length of their head. This helps them to retrieve their food from flowers. Their paws have four toes. The bones of the middle two toes on the back paws are fused (attached) but have separate claws that are used for grooming. Other toes are clawless.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsHoney Possum: Tarsipedidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Honey Possums And People - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, CONSERVATION STATUS