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Healesville Sanctuary

Mountain Pygmy-possum

The Mountain Pygmy-possum, Burramys parvus, is Australia’s only hibernating marsupial. There are thought to be fewer than 2000 Mountain Pygmy-possums left in the wild, and the species is listed as Critically Endangered.  

All three populations occur in the alpine and subalpine regions of periglacial rock scree and boulderfields: in the Bogong High Plains/Mt Hotham and Mt Buller in Victoria and Mt Kosciusko in New South Wales. The populations are genetically distinct and are managed separately. The possums hibernate for up to 7 months of the year and are dependent on a good blanket of snow to maintain the correct temperature over winter. 

Zoos Victoria became involved in the Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery Program in 2006. Captive breeding may be an important tool for recovering Mountain Pygmy-possums in the future. Healesville Sanctuary currently holds a research and breeding population of 45 Mountain Pygmy-possums, and has successfully bred young over the past 10 years.

The overall objective of the Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery Program is to achieve down-listing of the Mountain Pygmy-possum from Critically Endangered nationally to a lower threat category based on 1994 IUCN Red List criteria of population size and trends, extent of occurrence, and probability of extinction.

Zoos Victoria’s key roles in the recovery of this species are to:

  • Maintain a reserach population in captivity
  • Assist with population monitoring programs
  • Increase community awareness of the plight of the Mountain Pygmy-possum and community support for its conservation

Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. This map may not be accurate to the latest information.


Plans and publications

Mountain Pygmy-possum

Ice Queen for the Extinction Fighters

Found: high in the alpine areas of Victoria and NSW 

She can withstand extreme cold. She can fit through the tiniest gaps and crevices.

Meet all priority native threatened species

Zoos Victoria plans to save this endangered animal.

See all of our 21 priority threatened native species.

Mountain Pygmy Possum

Helping endangered Mountain Pygmy-possums find love

Critically endangered Mountain Pygmy-possums, currently separated by the Great Alpine Road, have been reconnected thanks to a new, specifically built “Tunnel of Love” on Mt Little Higginbotham.

2 May 2018

Bringing Healesville Sanctuary to the sick kids at Monash Children's Hospital

As part of National Children’s Week, Healesville Sanctuary has once again teamed up with the Monash Children's Hospital to bring smiles and laughter to the hospital’s patients.

26 October 2017
  • These tiny possums are the only Australian marsupial that hibernates over winter – beneath the snow!