Deslorelin implants control fertility in urban brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) without negatively influencing their body-condition index

Wild brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) occur in large numbers in the grounds of Perth Zoo, Western Australia. These possums are a problem because they consume feed the zoo buys for its captive animals, damage seedlings and trees and many need to be treated for injuries sustained during fights with conspecifics. A contraceptive implant, which contains the gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist deslorelin, could be a potential method of managing this population. We tested the efficacy of the implant and its impact on the body-condition index of treated possums with Kaplan?Meier analysis and a mixed model with residual maximum likelihood. We implanted 60 female possums with deslorelin and monitored reproductive success of treated and untreated possums for the following 18 months. At the conclusion of the study, 80% of 20 treated females recaptured had shown no evidence of breeding activity, giving an average minimum duration of effective contraception of 381 days. The implant did not have a negative impact on the body-condition index of treated possums during the course of the study. Our results suggest that deslorelin implants could be an effective management tool for brushtail possums at Perth Zoo and in other urban environments.

Author Cheryl A. Lohr, Harriet Mills, Helen Robertson and Roberta Bencini
Date 01/06/2009
Year 2009
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 36
Number 4
Institution University of Western Australia
Department School of Animal Biology
Pages 324?332
Notes Notes
ISBN/ISSN DOI: 10.1071/WR08050
Control method Fertility Control
Region WA