Western 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: Cercartetus concinnus
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 08 Aug 1997
Profile last updated: 07 Sep 2017

Description

The Western Pygmy Possum is a small (weighing between 8 and 21 grams), nocturnal marsupial. It is fawn or reddish-brown above and white below, with a finely-scaled, naked tail. Adults are between 64 and 106 millimetres (average 80) long, with a similar length (53 to 101 mm) prehensile tail that is held coiled and aids its movement through the foliage. Within its range in NSW it is unlikely to be confused with any other species, though in other parts of its distribution it overlaps with the smaller, more uniform in colour Little Pygmy-possum (C. lepidus).

Distribution

The Western Pygmy Possum occurs in temperate to arid woodlands across southern Australia, extending from the south west corner of Western Australia, through South Australia and western Victoria, with the eastern limit in south-western NSW. In NSW it was first trapped in Mallee Cliffs National Park in surveys in 1996, though subsequent investigations revealed a specimen in the National Museum of Victoria collected near Gol Gol in 1958. A number of trapping programs conducted since 1996 have captured this species at a number of sites in woodlands east of the Darling River, with many on Mallee Cliffs NP and surrounding properties and more scattered records to the north and east of this reserve. Recently confirmed in Mungo National Park. West of the Darling River it appears to occur at much lower densities, with less than ten records from both Tarawi Nature Reserve and Scotia Sanctuary. Based on trapping results in NSW the numbers in the local population appear to vary significantly from year to year, though the factors causing this are not known (though fluctuations elsewhere are suspected to be linked to rainfall and subsequent food availability).

Habitat and ecology

  • In NSW, has been found in mallee shrubland either dominated by spinifex (Triodia spp.) or with an understorey of tea-tree (Leptospermum spp.) and also in Belah (Casuarina pauper) in a mixed woodland with a well developed understorey of saltbush. In other states is also frequently found in woodlands with dense heath understorey (particularly Proteaceae species such as Banksia and Hakea species).
  • Shelters during the day in a leaf-lined nest in tree-hollows or in disused birds' nests, leaf clumps on the ground, under stumps or in mallee lignotubers at the base of live trees; shelters also include spinifex hummocks, shrubs, piles of dead branches and bark strips, ground depressions and in the tree canopy. Frequently enters torpor, particularly when temperatures are lower, for periods up to eleven days.
  • Forages at night on the ground and in shrubs, feeding on nectar, pollen, insects and possibly small lizards, using its forefeet to grasp food. During trapping, capture rates are highest on windy nights, indicating higher mobility in these conditions, as opposed to still nights where they appear to avoid predators by staying as still as possible.
  • Nectar and pollen are important components of this species’ diet and it appears to select habitat based on flower availability rather than structural attributes. It also feeds on invertebrates including insects.
  • Breeding can occur at any time of year, and in good seasons up to three successive litters (of up to six young each) can be produced. Normal litter size is between two and four.

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
Murray Darling DepressionSouth Olary Plain Known None
Other StateSA Known None