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Mountain Pygmy Possum

The Mountain Pygmy Possum (Burramys parvus) is a small, mouse-sized (weighs 45 g) nocturnal marsupial of Australia found in dense alpine rock screes and boulder fields, mainly southern Victoria and around Mount Kosciuszko in Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales at elevations from 1300 to 2230 m.[2] At almost 14 cm, its prehensile tail is longer than its 11 cm combined head and body length. Its diet consists of insects (such as the Bogong Moth), fleshy fruits, nuts, nectar and seeds. Its body is covered in a thick coat of fine grey fur except for its stomach, which is cream colored; its tail is hairless. On the underside of the female's body is a pouch containing four teats. This possum is the only extant species in the Burramys genus.[1] It is also the only Australian mammal restricted to alpine habitat.[2]

The Mountain Pygmy Possum was first described as a Pleistocene fossil by Robert Broom in 1896. It was thought to be extinct until 1966, when a living specimen was discovered in a ski-hut on Mount Hotham.[3]

As of 1992, there were two geographically isolated populations: Mount Bogong - Mount Higginbotham/Mount Hotham (Victoria) and Kosciuszko National Park (New South Wales). For most of the year, males and females live apart from each other. The females live on the better part of the rocky slopes, while the males live on the margins, usually lower on the mountain. In order to breed, the males migrate to the females' habitat. However, during the peak of the ski season on Mount Higginbotham, the males had to cross a road which put their survival in jeopardy. In an attempt to solve the problem, a "Tunnel of Love" was constructed under the road and a road sign was put in place to warn drivers.

To further preserve the Mountain Pygmy Possum, a small proportion of the Perisher Blue Ski Resort, New South Wales, Australia, has been 'roped-off' to prevent resort guests (skiers and snowboarders) from disturbing the possums whilst they hibernate.[citation needed] It is estimated that there are only about 2000 Mountain Pygmy Possums remaining.[4]

References

  1. ^ a b Groves, Colin P. (16 November 2005). "Order Diprotodontia (pp. 43-70)". In Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). p. 44. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=11000019. 
  2. ^ a b c Menkhorst, P., Broome, L. & Driessen, M. (2008). Burramys parvus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 28 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as critically endangered
  3. ^ Turner, Vivienne and McKay, G. M. (1989). "27. Burramyidae". In Walton, D.W. and Richardson, B. J. (eds). Fauna of Australia, Volume 1B: Mammalia. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. ISBN 0-644-06056-5. 
  4. ^ http://www.act4nature.org.au/Campaigns/Mountain-Pygmy-Possum.html

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