Species profile

Western Pygmy-possum

Western Pygmy-possum

Range and abundance

Western Pygmy-possums occur across much of southern Australia. One population is found in south-western Western Australia as far east as Balladonia. The other side of the Nulllabor marks the western edge of the other population distribution, reaching southern South Australia, western Victoria and south-west New South Wales. In New South Wales it is known from only a few records and has a much restricted distribution. Across the other states it may be locally common but is limited in its range.

Description

A small nocturnal marsupial, the Western Pygmy-possum is the largest species of the Burramyidae family. It has a fawn or cinnamon-like coloured fur above and white below, which is distinctly different from its close relatives. They also possess a finely-scaled, naked, prehensile tail which they use to aid movement through the foliage. Adults weigh 8-20 g (average 13 g) and have a head/body length of 71-106 mm (average 81 mm).

Ecology

Typical habitat includes heathlands, shrublands, and dry forests such as Mallee. Western Pygmy-possums are nocturnal and when active will seek out a range of foods including nectar, pollen, insects and other small arthropods. During the day they retreat to leaf-lined nests in tree hollows or in the leaves of grass-trees. Breeding occurs across the year, with a female typically raising between 6-8 young.

Threats

Like almost all small native mammals in Australia, the Western Pygmy-possum populations have been affected by predation by introduced predators like cats and foxes as well as habitat degradation from clearing land for cropping, and altered fire regimes.


What is AWC doing?

The Western Pygmy-possum is known to occur on at least four AWC properties across southern Australia. Through eco-health monitoring, feral predator control, and revised fire regime research, AWC is helping to maintain important habitat for the Western Pygmy-possum to continue to survive in.

Did you know:

During extreme weather conditions such as cold weather the Western Pygmy-possum can go into a period of torpor to conserve energy. During torpor they bring their body down to very low temperatures and reduced their metabolic rate. They can be in a state of torpor for a day or even up to two weeks.