The common ringtail possum ranges on the east coast of Australia, as well as Tasmania and a part of southwestern Australia. They generally live in temperate and tropical environments and are rare in drier environments. Ringtail possums prefer forests of dense brush, particularly eucalyptus forests.
Common ringtail possums are nocturnal and are well adapted to arboreal life. They rarely descend to the ground and rely on their prehensile tail. They communicate with soft, high-pitched, and twittering calls. As a marsupial, the common ringtail possum carries its young in a pouch, where it develops.
The common ringtail possum and its relatives occupy a range of niches similar to those of lemurs, monkeys, squirrels, and bushbabies in similar forests on other continents. This marsupial spends little time on the ground and lots of time with its family.