Help us change their future
This spring, the Mountain Pygmy-possum needs the urgent help of millions of Australians.
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!
What are Mountain Pygmy-possums?
With big ears, large eyes, a curly tail and weighing around 45g, the Mountain Pygmy-possums are arguably Australia's cutest possum. They are also Australia's only hibernating marsupial, making them extra special.
They are classified as critically endangered, with fewer than 2,000 left in the wild and their most urgent threat is now the loss of their spring food source, the Bogong Moth.
Where are the Bogong Moths going?
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.
There are three things we need your help with:
1. Turn your lights off for the Bogong Moths
This September and October we’re asking everyone in the ACT, NSW and Victoria to turn unnecessary lights off overnight.
If you have friends or family members who live in these areas, please tell them to turn lights off for the Bogong Moths!
We also need unnecessary lights turned off at Parliament House in Canberra, and public buildings and stadiums across the ACT, NSW and Victoria.
2. Moth Tracker
Each spring, swarms of Bogong Moths migrate from their breeding grounds to the alpine regions where Mountain Pygmy-possums live.
In 2017 and 2018, Bogong Moths arriving in these areas crashed from around 4.4 billion to just a few individuals.
We need more info about where these moths are.
Help the Mountain Pygmy-possum by recording your Bogong Moth sighting on our Moth Tracker.
3. Totes for Wildlife
It’s never been more important to secure food sources for critically endangered Mountain Pygmy-possums.
We’re working with our partners to improve Mountain Pygmy-possum habitat by planting trees and shrubs like Alpine Plum Pines to increase the number of insects in the region and to produce fruits and nuts for the possums to eat in autumn.
For every tote bag you buy at one of our zoos, online or at PETstock from September, we’ll plant a tree. Together we can protect a tiny treasure.
A quick update on the progress
As of October, the Bogong Moths have begun arriving! Citizen scientists from around Australia have been submitting verified images of Bogong Moths near Mountain Pygmy-possum habitat at Falls Creek, Mount Buller and at Mount Kosciuszko in NSW.
Citizen scientists Jodi and Lara submitted some fantastic images of swarms of Bogong Moths around the chairlift at Mount Hotham. Our partners in the area have confirmed that these are indeed Bogong Moths.
Sightings have also been recorded as far north as Sydney and as far south as Venus Bay near Wilson’s Prom here in Victoria.
The Moth Tracker has also recorded sightings in Canberra, which lays directly in the flight path of migrating Bogong Moths and is a well-known source of light that ‘traps’ Bogong Moths and stops them from completing their journey towards Victoria.
Thanks to citizen scientists using Moth Tracker, we know the moths are out there! It’s now more important than ever to help Bogong Moths reach their destination in Victoria’s alpine areas and turn off unnecessary outside lights.
Hope is not lost. This possum is a fighter but we need your help.
What Zoos Victoria is doing
The Victorian Mountain Pygmy-Possum Recovery Team, together with supporting organisations, is also working hard to implement interventions in the wild.
These may include developing new nutritious food sources, improving habitat connectivity and captive measures to support populations through the breeding season.
Please stay tuned for more information.