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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 less than 2000 Mountain Pygmy-possums left in the wild, and the species is listed as Critically Endangered.  

All three declining populations occur in the alpine and subalpine regions of periglacial rock scree and boulderfields: in the Bogong High Plains and Mt Hotham in Victoria and Mt Kosciusko in New South Wales. The populations are genetically distinct and are managed separately.  The population at Mt Buller was discovered in 1996 and is the most vulnerable to extinction.

Zoos Victoria became involved in the Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery Program in 2007. Captive breeding may be an important method of recovering Mountain Pygmy-possums, particularly the Mt Buller population.  Healesville Sanctuary currently holds a breeding population of 45 Mountain Pygmy-possums, and successfully bred young in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11.

The overall objective of the Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery Program is to achieve down-listing of the Mountain Pygmy-possum from 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:

  • Develop a captive management program for the species and supplement wild populations through captive breeding for reintroduction
  • Maintain an insurance 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

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.


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
Possum video

Winter slumber for our tiny possum

Mountain Pygmy-possums are an exceptional little possum.

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