A small cute mammal scientifically called Mountain Pygmy Possum is one of five existing possum species, and the only kind that is used to live in Australian highlands, actually exclusively there, and nowhere else. Like kangaroos and wombats, these also belong to marsupials, but unlike others, mountain pygmy possums hibernate for half a year or even more. Hibernation season is Australian winter and it may start as early as March and continue to as late as November. Therefore, the best season to spot active animalcules is from November to February, when the possums breed and feed to put on fat before they fall into hibernation for another half a year. Also, note that mountain pygmy possum is a nocturnal animal. Maybe that's because their favourite food is moths?
The first scientific description of Mountain Pygmy Possum was done by Robert Broom back in 1896. The data were gathered as based on the study of the Pleistocene fossil, as the species itself was considered to be extinct. Imagine what a great surprise it must have been to once reveal a living possum! This fascinating encounter happened in Victoria's Ski Club Lodge on Mount Hotham in 1966. Still, it was the only possum found so far, and the following year it was enlisted into the Guinness Book of Records as the rarest species on Earth. However, further surveys discovered more and more colonies within Victorian Alps and New South Wales. Today's population consists of about 2600 individuals, inhabiting solely mountainous areas at 1,200 to 2,228 m above the sea, in particular, Mount Buller and Mount Higginbotham in Victoria, and Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales. They are also bred in captivity for the sake of species preservation.
When you decide to climb Australia's highest peaks, watch out in front of your feet, as you might step on one of these adorable fellows. They are mainly terrestrial but are also able to climb. It must be a moment of true delight to hold such a cute furball on your palm.
When do Mountain Pygmy Possums hibernate and when are they active?
Mountain Pygmy Possums hibernate for an extended period during the Australian winter season, which can range from March to November. They are most active during the breeding season of November to February when they feed and gain fat before hibernation. The best chance to spot them is during the breeding season. One needs to go on guided night tours to witness these little creatures. They occupy only mountainous areas in the Australian highlands, with the best-known locations being Mount Buller, Mount Higginbotham, and Kosciuszko National Park. Show more
What is the distribution of Mountain Pygmy Possum in Australia?
Mountain Pygmy Possums are found in only three locations within a 10 km radius of the Australian highlands. These locations are Mount Buller and Mount Higginbotham in Victoria and Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales. They occur solely in mountainous areas, with elevations ranging from 1,200 to 2,228 meters above sea level. The total population of these colonies in the Victorian Alps and New South Wales is around 2600 individuals. They are bred in captivity to preserve the species. Show more
How has the population of Mountain Pygmy Possum evolved in Victoria and New South Wales?
The population of Mountain Pygmy Possums in Victoria and New South Wales has increased due to surveys finding additional colonies. All the colonies are located on high elevations, solely within Australian highlands. The total population of these colonies in the Victorian Alps and New South Wales is around 2600 individuals. Show more
What is the breeding season of Mountain Pygmy Possum, and how can one best spot them?
The breeding season of Mountain Pygmy Possum is from November to February, when they feed and gain fat before hibernation. This season is the best time to find active possums, and guided night tours increase the chances of spotting them. However, these tiny possums are cautious, and one must exercise care while exploring mountainous areas. Show more
What are the dietary habits of Mountain Pygmy Possums?
Mountain Pygmy Possums are known to consume different high-altitude plants, insects, and seed materials, with the Bogong Moth being a significant part of their insectivorous diet. These possums can climb trees and shrubs for food. The unique dietary habits demonstrate their role in contributing to the establishment of healthy high-altitude ecosystems. Show more