The present watercolour may have been executed in connection with John Gould's The Mammals of Australia, London, 1845-63, however it was not used for the final publication, as it was Henry Constantine Richter who provided the drawings for the plates. Lear did, however, work on Gould's The Birds of Australia, London, 1840, 1848 and 1869, which he completed after the death of Gould's wife who had initiated the project.
This species of possum is common throughout western and south-eastern Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. The animals are often found in urban areas but more commonly the brushtail inhabits areas where there are trees, preferring to den in tree-hollows and fallen logs. The diet consists of eucalyptus leaves, fruit, buds, bark and sometimes meat. The possum varies in colour, including red and black, but the grey variety is more common in Australia.