Mountain Pygmy-possums

14 August, 2010

Mountain Pygmy-possum in the <i>Wild: Amazing animals in a changing world</I> exhibition.
Mountain Pygmy-possum in the Wild: Amazing animals in a changing world exhibition.
Image: Nicole Davis
Source: Museum Victoria

Question: Is it true that the Mountain Pygmy-possum was thought to be extinct?

Answer: Yes, it is. Up until 1966, we only knew about the Mountain Pygmy-possum, Burramys parvus, through fossil records. Currently, there are known populations in both New South Wales and Victoria, but this species is presently classified as endangered.

The Mountain Pygmy-possum is the only Australian hibernating marsupial and as such it has limited habitats for survival. Currently in Victoria, the Mountain Pygmy-possum is known to live in the Alpine National Park, on both Mount Buller and Mount Hotham, where it is able to experience the longer periods of snow cover. As adults, the males and females live together during breeding season and separately at other times of the year, and each litter produces on average 4 young.

In Victoria the Mountain Pygmy-possum is endangered and is protected by the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. Currently there is a captive breeding program, undertaken by Zoos Victoria, to increase the numbers and reintroduce this tiny marsupial back into the wild.

Comments (14)

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luff 31 August, 2010 14:22
how does the extinction of the mountain pygmy possum effect us?
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Discovery Centre 2 September, 2010 10:27

The extinction of any plant or animal species has an effect on the whole ecosystem, reducing biodiversity and disrupting food chains. This process does not exclude humans!

zac brown 12 September, 2010 22:14
So what can we do to help the continuation of the species? how many pygmy possums are ther left in Australia? what is this website doing to help out the Mountain Pygmy Possums?
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Tim Bastin 15 September, 2010 11:30
How many Mountain Pygmy Possums are in captivity now?
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Discovery Centre 16 September, 2010 15:35
Hi Tim - That's an interesting question, and one to which we do not have an easy answer! There is a captive breeding program for the Mountain Pygmy  Possum at Healesville Sanctuary, you might like to try contacting them.
Alice Huynh Tran 18 October, 2010 20:56
heyy, i was just wondering; do you know about the food web and the life cycle for the Mountain Pygmy Possum? i just need this information ASAP. thanks. xx :) k3
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Discovery Centre 20 October, 2010 14:55
Hi Alice you can try the publication ‘Mammals of Australia’.  This would contain the most recent information regarding the possum.  An alternative is to contact Healesville Sanctuary where they have been conducting a captive breeding program.
Jae Wallace 19 October, 2010 12:45
is there a chart showing the change in mountain pygmy possums population over the years?
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Discovery Centre 20 October, 2010 14:57

Hi Jae - as we mentioned to Alice, try contacting Healesville Sanctuary as they may have the information you are looking for.  Good luck!

Anastasia 14 April, 2011 17:53
What do u mean by the MAMMAL OF AUSTRALIA section. Where is it? reply ASAP please
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Discovery Centre 15 April, 2011 12:07

Hi Anastasia, Mammals of Australia is a book (publication, not section) by Ronald Strahan. We have a copy in the Discovery Centre Library. You might want to try your local library.

harrison 23 May, 2011 14:19
what is the mountain pygmy possum food web doing this for a school project please help
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Hayley Bates 21 September, 2012 10:56
The animal in the photo (by Nicole Davis) is actually a very wet bush rat (Rattus fuscipes).It is not a photo of a mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus). Bush rats are found in the same environment as mountain pygmy possums and sightings of rats are commonly mistaken as possums. If you would like some images of mountain pygmy possums, email me and I can send you some.
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Discovery Centre 30 September, 2012 14:38
Hello Hayley - many thanks for your comment. However, we are quite confident that the animal in Nicole's image is indeed a Mountain Pygmy Possum Burramys parvus and not a rodent as you state - the specimen in the image has been on display at Melbourne Museum for 12 years in a dioramic display case that shows the Pygmy Possum sheltering from overlying snow. For your reference, the specimen in question is part of Museum Victoria's extensive mammalogy collections, and you can access the full details of this specimen's provenance on the OZCAM website here.
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