Mountain Pygmy-possums were thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered at Mt Hotham in the 1960s.
There are fewer than 2,000 critically endangered Mountain Pygmy-possums left in the wild.
The possum is Australia’s only hibernating marsupial; it hibernates for up to seven months under the snow.
There are three populations of Mountain Pygmy-possums. They live in the alpine and subalpine rocks and boulders found in the Bogong High Plains and Mt Buller in Victoria and Mt Kosciuzko in New South Wales.
The major threats
Climate change, the loss of habitat and predators, mainly feral cats and foxes, are all severe threats to the Mountain Pygmy-possum.
An emerging threat is the reduction in the possum's key food source over spring, the Bogong Moth. This is a currently particular focus within the Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery Team.
The plan for fighting extinction
Zoos Victoria became involved in the Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery Program in 2006. Healesville Sanctuary currently holds a large research and breeding population. We also assist with monitoring wild populations and assist with habitat connectivity, such as the new Mt Little Higginbotham Tunnel of Love.
Tunnel of Love project
Two groups of possums at Mt Little Higginbotham were previously separated by the Great Alpine Road, which made it difficult for them to reach each other. It was especially hard for the males, who lived lower down the slope, to climb up and reach the females at breeding times. Apart from the danger of crossing a busy road, feral foxes and cats also posed threats.
The Mountain Pygmy-possums have been reconnected thanks to the specifically built 'Tunnel of Love' on Mt Little Higginbotham. Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board partnered with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Zoos Victoria to construct a rocky corridor under the Great Alpine Road. The tunnel now links the separate groups of possums (making breeding a lot less hazardous).
How you can help
- Raise community awareness and support for the Mountain Pygmy-possum.
- Do what you can to decrease your carbon footprint.
- By visiting our zoos, you are supporting our work to fight extinction.
- Donate if you can, because every little bit helps. As we are a not-for-profit organisation, all donations go toward our important conservation efforts.
- Discover more about local conservation events and join the growing number of wild activists taking action for local wildlife.