Mountain Pygmy Possum

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Mountain Pygmy Possum

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What do they look like?

These small possums average around 40 grams, are smaller than your thumb (250mm in length) and over half of their body is their tail. They have dense, fine, grey-brown coloured fur with a creamy-fawn coloured underbody. Their nose is pink and have bright eyes with dark shadows around the edges. The tail has short, sparse hair. 

Where are they found? 

The Mountain Pygmy-possum is confined in its distribution to the Australian Alps, occurring in three locations across the alpine region in Victoria (Mt Bogong and Mt Buller) and NSW. In NSW, a third population is distributed among small patches of habitat in alpine and subalpine areas of Kosciuszko National Park.

The shrubby heathland associated with Mountain Pygmy-possum habitat is characterised by the Mountain Plum Pine and other shrubs. Mountain Pygmy-possums occur in areas above the tree line however the seeds of Snow Gums, Eucalyptus pauciflora, are included in their diet if available. Trees also contribute to snow and hydrologic dynamics in habitat areas and provide access points to the snow surface through snow melt circles.

Fast facts:

  1. OUR CONSERVATION STATUS

National: Endangered

State: Critically Endangered (VIC), Endangered (NSW)

  1. The Mountain Pygmy-possum was first found as a fossil and thought to be extinct until 1966 when a living possum was discovered. Fossil records show that they have existed for more than 10,000 years.

Wherever you see the flame symbol on our site you will know that this animal or plant has been directly impacted by the Black Summer bushfires and is in need of your help.

 

OUR CONSERVATION STATUS
  • National: Endangered
  • State: Critically Endangered (VIC), Endangered (NSW)
HOW MANY OF US ARE THERE?

< 2,700 individuals

WHERE DO WE LIVE?

The Mountain Pygmy-possum is confined in its distribution to the Australian Alps, occurring in three locations across the alpine region in Victoria (Mt Bogong and Mt Buller) and NSW. In NSW, a third population is distributed among small patches of habitat in alpine and subalpine areas of Kosciuszko National Park.

The shrubby heathland associated with Mountain Pygmy-possum habitat is characterised by the Mountain Plum Pine and other shrubs. Mountain Pygmy-possums occur in areas above the tree line however the seeds of Snow Gums, Eucalyptus pauciflora, are included in their diet if available. Trees also contribute to snow and hydrologic dynamics in habitat areas and provide access points to the snow surface through snow melt circles.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Mountain Pygmy-possum was first found as a fossil and thought to be extinct until 1966 when a living possum was discovered. Fossil records show that they have existed for more than 10,000 years.

The Mountain Pygmy-possum likes to eat the fruit of the Mountain Plum Pine, berries, fleshy fruits, Bogong months, insects, nectar and seeds. The female mountain Pygmy-possum can live for up to 13 years, making it the longest-living small marsupial known. Males live for up to five years.

In the warmer months this possum will be found amongst boulder fields and shrubby heathland. During winter, they hibernate under rocks below the surface of the soil or in boulder crevices, where they are covered with a blanket of snow.

FAMILY LIFE?

From January to April, the possum puts on weight to hibernate from May to September with the remainder of the year being an active mating period. For most of the year, adult male and females live separately. Males travel to the females’ habitat to breed.

A litter usually consists of four Mountain Pygmy-possums, which leave the pouch when they’re 3-5 weeks old. The babies live in a nest of grass built by their mother.

THREATS TO OUR SURVIVAL
  • Habitat loss and fragmentation due to clearance of native vegetation
  • Predation from foxes and cats
  • Inappropriate and changed fire regimes
  • Invasive plants
  • Climate change (increased temperatures reduce the snow cover that the possums need to hibernate)
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