Endagered Species Classification
There are only three known populations of the Mountain Pygmy Possum left in the wild covering a range of just 10 square kilometers (largely coinciding with Australia’s ski resorts). Since the populations are so small and isolated they are very susceptible to inbreeding and catastrophic events.
Further fragmentation of their habitat due to resort development and predation by feral foxes and cats also pose real threats to the survival of the Mountain Pygmy Possum.
Existing populations of Mountain Pygmy Possum populations and their habitats are being monitored and some vital possum habitat is being protected through national park boundary extensions, artificial corridors and tunnels linking fragmented populations, and other weed control work. Regular fox and cat control programs and public awareness campaigns are also conducted in alpine resorts.
FAME is excited to have supported this groundbreaking project involving cross-breeding individuals from separate populations. This 'genetic rescue' will introduce greater genetic variation into the isolated Mountain Pygmy Possum populations resulting in healthier babies and an increase in population size.
An unique alpine marsupial:
The Mountain Pygmy Possum is one of the world’s only hibernating marsupials. It does not sleep for the entire winter but will hibernate for up to 3 weeks at a time. It keeps a stash of seeds and nuts to snack on when it wakes up in the winter months.
Appearance: This tiny possum has a mouse-like body covered in thick greyish fur. Its long tail, agile front feet are designed for gathering food while the strong back feet are made for gripping. It also has enlarged front teeth which are great for cracking seeds. It is distinguished from other pygmy possums by its long, scaly tail, which is almost 1 1/2 times its body lenght.
Size: The Mountain Pygmy Possum is the largest of Australia’s five species of pygmy-possum, yet it only weighs 45 grams and could easily fit in the palm of your hand!
Habitat: The Mountain Pygmy Possum is well adapted to life in Australia’s snow-covered alpine and sub-alpine regions of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) where there is a continuous period of snow cover for six months. Unlike its tree-dwelling cousins, the Mountain Pygmy Possum lives among rock crevices and boulder- fields associated with the Mountain Plum Pine (Podocarpus lawrencei) and Bogong Moths.
Diet: The Mountain Pygmy-possum feeds during the night. In spring and summer months it builds up fat reserves by mostly eating protein rich Bogong moths. It will also eat seeds and fruit of plants like the Mountain Plum Pine, Rambling Bramble and Snow Beard-heath.
Click here to download a factsheet about the Mountain Pygmy Possum (Burramys parvus)
Last updated May 2015