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.
Lights off for the Bogong Moths
Each spring, Mountain Pygmy-possums wake up from their annual hibernation, hungry for nutritious Bogong Moths to eat so they can raise their young.
Sadly, Bogong Moth populations appear to have suffered a catastrophic decline in the past two years, which means there's simply not enough food for these tiny possums to raise their babies.
We need Australia's help finding these moths and guiding them to the possums!
Bogong Moths normally migrate from Queensland, NSW and western Victoria towards Mountain Pygmy-possum habitats. But for the past two years they haven't arrived.
There are a number of possible reasons why Bogong Moths aren’t reaching alpine areas.
As well as drought and pesticide use, bright lights from towns and cities are thought to lure and trap the moths along their migration route.
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.
In spring 2019, Zoos Victoria launched a new campaign, Lights Off for the Bogong Moths to encourage people to turn off their unnecessary outside lights overnight to help Bogong Moths find their way to Mountain Pygmy-possums.
How you can help
- Turn your unnecessary outside lights off in spring.
- 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.