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

Wildlife Research (Impact Factor: 1.49). 01/2009; 36(4):324–332. DOI: 10.1071/WR08050


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.

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