Pigmy possum found in Australia

Yucatan is home to the largest species, the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), is the only marsupial to be found in North America. This animal is one of the most underrated creatures in nature.

But in Australia, there is a species of miniature possum known as the “Pigmy Possum”.

And a little pygmy possum has been found on Kangaroo Island for the first time since its habitat was mostly destroyed in bushfires that burnt almost half the island.

Fauna ecologist Pat Hodgens said the discovery on the west of the South Australian island, nearly one year on from the fires, was extremely exciting.

“There’s only really been 113 formal records of the species [ever on Kangaroo Island],” he said.

“So certainly not very common and, obviously, the summer bushfires burnt through much of that habitat that species had, but we were certainly hopeful that we would find them.”

Little pygmy possums are mainly found in Tasmania.(Supplied: Ashlee Benc/Kangaroo Island Land For Wildlife)

Mr Hodgens said the little pygmy possum was a difficult species to find and study, given their tiny size.

The little pygmy possum, or Cercartetus lepidus, weighs a mere 7 grams.

Described as the world’s smallest possum, they can primarily be found in Tasmania, along with Kangaroo Island and sometimes on mainland South Australia and Victoria.

A road winds through fire ravaged countryside
A bushfire destroyed much of Flinders Chase National Park.(AAP: David Mariuz)

Conservation group Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife found the tiny creature earlier this week as part of a larger recovery effort in the wake of the summer bushfires.

Two people died and almost 90 homes were destroyed in the fires, with a significant amount of wildlife also killed.

A beige and a grey possum being held by two different hands
A western pygmy possum (left) and a little pygmy possum found on Kangaroo Island.(Supplied: Ashlee Benc/Kangaroo Island Land For Wildlife)

Mr Hodgens said the group was completing extensive forest surveys to figure out what species were now left “to try to do everything we can to protect them to ensure that they hang around during this pretty critical time”.

“It’s very important now because it is kind of like the last refuge for a lot of these species that really rely on very old long, unburned vegetation,” he said.

More than 20 other wildlife species have been found, including a bibrons toadlet, a southern brown bandicoot, and a tammar wallaby.

A small possum being held in a person's hand with a device measuring the size of its head
A little pygmy possum having its head measured.(Supplied: Ashlee Benc/Kangaroo Island Land For Wildlife)

He said while it was great news, there were still concerns for other rare species that had not been spotted yet, such as the native swamp rat.

“We don’t know a lot about that species because it is pretty rare around the island and also fairly susceptible to the wildfire events,” he said.

“Even with all fauna survey efforts and camera trapping that we’re doing, we’re still yet to locate an individual swamp rat.”

Source: www.abc.net.au/



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