Mountain Pygmy-possum - profile

Indicative distribution


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Key:
known
predicted
The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Burramys parvus
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered
Commonwealth status: Endangered
Gazetted date: 16 Mar 2001
Profile last updated: 07 Sep 2017

Description

Mountain Pygmy-possum adults average 40 grams but vary from 30 grams in spring up to 80 grams in autumn when they fatten for winter hibernation. Of the total length of 250 mm, over half is tail. The fur is dense and fine, grey-brown above and creamy to bright fawn under the body. The nose is pink and there are dark shadows around the eyes. The tail, which can be coiled, is furred for 2 cm at its base, then greyish-pink, with short, sparse hairs. In its mountain habitat, this species could only be mistaken for a House Mouse, but its larger size, part furry and coiled tail, 5 (not 4) front toes, and joined (syndactyl) second and third back toes should be enough to distinguish it.

Distribution

The Mountain Pygmy-possum lives only in alpine and subalpine areas on the highest mountains of Victoria and NSW. In NSW the entire range is in a 30 km by 8 km area of Kosciuszko National Park between Thredbo and Kerries Ridge, where it occupies less than four square kilometres of habitat. The total population size is less than 500 adults. Two of the four main sub-populations in NSW are found within ski resort areas.

Habitat and ecology

  • Lives on the ground in rocky areas where boulders have accumulated below mountain peaks; frequently associated with alpine heathland shrubs dominated by the Mountain Plum-pine (Podocarpus lawencei).
  • Survives winter by fattening in late summer and autumn and hibernating for up to seven months, from autumn until the snow melts in spring.
  • Seventy percent of the diet is invertebrates such as the migratory Bogong Moth, caterpillars, beetles, spiders and millipedes; the remainder comprises fruits and seeds from species such as the Mountain Plum Pine and Snow Beard-heath.
  • One litter of four young are produced in spring; young are independent by late summer; breeds when one year old; average longevity is two to three years but females may live up to thirteen years and males five years.
  • Daily movements between habitat patches can be up to 1 km for females and 3 km for males; males and young animals disperse in autumn.
  • The only Australian mammal to be entirely restricted to the alpine zone in areas above the winter snowline; it is dependant on the insulation provided by snow for its survival.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Threats

Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Australian AlpsSnowy Mountains Known sth - nth range between Dead Horse Gap and Mt Jugungle