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Australian threatened species: Pygmy Possums

Australian threatened species: Pygmy Possums

Pygmy Possums are nocturnal, tree-dwelling marsupials that can measure anywhere from 12cm to just 5cm in length.  With their large round eyes, soft furry coat and tiny frame they are on our list as one of the cutest animals native to Australia and sadly also endangered.

There are 4 surviving species in Australia: the Mountain, Eastern, Western, Tasmanian and Long tailed Pygmy Possums - all considered a threatened species in particular the Mountain Pygmy Possum which has been declared critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  

Pygmy Possums can live across a variety of habitats – rainforests, wet and dry sclerophyll forests, woodlands, mallee scrub and coastal heathlands and play a large role in maintaining habitat health by pollinating trees such as eucalypts, banksias and bottlebrushes.  Today there are only three known populations: Mount Higginbotham and Mount Buller in Victoria, and Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales with their population estimated to be less than 2600 adults, restricted to an area less than 10 square kilometres.

Threats to the species come from land clearing for agriculture along with eradication by feral animals such as cats, foxes and dogs.  Our little Pygmy Possums are also prey to owls, dingoes, quolls, goannas and snakes. 

Bush Heritage Australia are working to protect the Pygmy Possums by regenerating their habitat and by controlling feral animals - the Eastern is protected on Scottsdale Reserve in NSW; the Tasmanian on Friendly BeachesLiffey River and South Esk Reserves; and the Western on Chingarrup, Kojonup and the Monjebup reserves in Western Australia.

Pygmy Possum