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Mountain Pygmy Possum (Burramys parvus)

Mountain Pygmy 
Possum

Mountain Pygmy Possum


Prior to 1966, the mountain pygmy possum was only known through fossil records and was thought to be extinct. This species is classified as “endangered” and is only known to currently exist in Victoria and New South Wales. At each of those locations, there is only one isolated population. The endangerment comes from a lack of available habitat and predators including foxes and cats.

The mountain pygmy possum prefers to altitudes ranging from 1400-2200m. This extreme environment is very cold and makes studying this species rather difficult. Mountain pygmy possums will go into a type of hibernation when it gets too cold. There is some evidence obtained from these animals in captivity that they might huddle together for warmth in the wild. Mountain pygmy possums can be found beneath deep snow and in boulder crevices. Males and females tend to live separately as adults.

The tail of a mountain pygmy possum is considerably longer than the body, measuring and average140mm, while the average head and body measures 110mm. Mountain pygmy possums have a dull grey/brown back and a cream colored underbelly. The cream fur is also present on the chin and cheeks. There is no fur on the light pink tail of the mountain pygmy possum. The feet have a similar coloration to the tail.

Mountain pygmy possums eat seed, insects, and fruit. The winter hibernation is broken to allow for periods of feeding.

During the breeding season males and females will live together. Females reach reproductive maturity in their first year, some males take up to two years to reach reproductive maturity. Mating occurs from November through December. A litter usually produces four young. Young leave the pouch at around three weeks even though their eyes don’t open until the fifth week. When the young leave the pouch the mother builds them a nest of grass. Young are fully grown by about five months. There have been reports of wild mountain pygmy possums living for up to four years, in captivity they live for about 6 years.

 

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Bibliography

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia, Menkhorst, P. and Knight, F. ©2001.

Walker’s Mammals of the World, Nowak, R. ©1999.

Animal Info- Mountain Pygmy Possum, Massicot, P., 8/7/04, http://www.animalinfo.org/species/burrparv.htm.


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