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5. Mountain Pygmy Possum

Burramys parvus

About

The mountain pygmy possum is the largest of the pygmy possums, and the only Australian mammal restricted to alpine habitat.

The first discovery of this species was from fossils discovered in 1895 – believed extinct; it wasn’t until 1966 that a living mountain pygmy possum was found, at a ski lodge in Victoria, Australia. Its range is estimated to be less than 6 or 7km², existing only at elevations between 1,300 and 2,228 m above sea level. Their restricted habitat has been further fragmented or lost to road construction, dam/aqueduct construction and the development of infrastructure for the downhill skiing industry. It is the sole member of its genus Burramys, with only one other genus in the Burramyidae family; with only 5 total species of pygmy possum. Its tail is longer than the length of its head and body combined. Because of their alpine habitat, they hibernate through the winter, living off fat stores, but also coming out of hibernation to feed on stored seeds and berries – it is the only marsupial to store food in a cache. While females can reproduce year-round, they are limited by needing to maintain a fat reserve for hibernation and so only produce one litter of 3-4 pups in the spring.

  • Order: Diprotodontia
  • Family: Burramyidae
  • Population: <2,000
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 10.1-13cm
  • Weight: 30-60g

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 6.35 (?)
ED Score: 34.66 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct

Distribution

This species is restricted to three geographically isolated populations in south east Australia; Kosciuszko National Park (New South Wales), and in the Mt. Bogong – Mt. Higginbotham range and the Mt. Buller-Stirling areas in Victoria. It may also occur in the, where possible remains have been identified in predator scats.

Habitat and Ecology

This species live in amongst rock screes and boulder field heathland in alpine and sub-alpine zones of the ‘Australian Alps’. They feed on high energy food such as the Bogong moth, which migrates to the Australian Alps for breeding in summer. Through summer their diet is supplemented with other small arthropods. As winter approaches, they switch their diet to seeds and berries.

Find out more

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Tourism Habitat change Roads/Rail Fire Dams Invasive species Native species

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org