Bogong biscuits bring sweet relief for mountain pygmy-possums

Primary schools throughout the Snowy Mountains of NSW have partnered with the NSW Government’s Saving our Species (SoS) program and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to bake Bogong moth biscuits.

Mountain pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus)

The treats are a life-saving, emergency food source for the endangered mountain pygmy-possums of Kosciuszko National Park, following the devastation of the Dunns Road fire during the 2019-20 summer.

NPWS Discovery Coordinator Dan Nicholls said that the possums would be in urgent need of the ‘bogong biccies’ once they wake from their winter hibernation, after their alpine boulder field habitat was severely burnt, leaving them with no natural food sources.

“Although many Australian native species have evolved with fire, our SoS conservation scientists have worked hard to protect this species and we want to see them continue to flourish. NPWS and SoS officers were quick to respond in January 2020 by delivering supplementary food and water to the small marsupials until they entered hibernation at the end of Autumn,” said Mr Nicholls.

“While these efforts saw the possums fatten up for their winter hibernation period, they are starting to wake up and there are concerns there still isn’t enough natural food to support the population particularly through the breeding season in spring,” he said.

“In early winter this year students from Berridale Public School contacted NPWS to ask what they could do to help Kosciuszko National Park recover from the bush fires. The team at the Kosciuszko Education Centre thought the Bogong biccie baking was a useful job that local students could help with.

“To ensure there’s enough bogong biccies to go around, we’ve recruited the overwhelming support of other local schools in the region, who’ve been busy baking these treats that the hungry mountain pygmy-possums will find irresistible.”

“The biscuit recipe was developed by Melbourne Zoo, and is designed to replicate the nutritional value of Bogong moths, one of the possum’s main food sources. The idea to bake them here in schools came from a few students that were doing a project on endangered animals, and were eager to have their teacher contact the NPWS to see if there was anything they could do to help.”

“While the fires seem like a long time ago now, their impacts continue to be felt across the state. While many areas are recovering well, some still require a helping hand, so it’s great to see what can be achieved with the support of local communities.”

Many other local schools followed Berridale’s example, with bogong biccies also baked at schools including Cooma Public School, Adaminaby Public School and Jindabyne Central School. SoS and NPWS team members are now distributing the biccies throughout the mountain pygmy-possums' alpine habitat.