Western Pygmy Possum
Southwestern pygmy possum, Mundarda
The Western pygmy possum is a small marsupial. It has fawn or cinnamon colored fur above with white below, distinctly different from its near relatives. These possums are distinguished by their whiskered, short, pointed snout, thin rounded ears and very large eyes, well adapted for night vision. They have a naked, finely-scaled prehensile tail which aids movement through the foliage.
Western pygmy possums are located only in Australia, in the southwest, south, and southeast. They prefer habitats that have a dense shrubby understory and can provide food and shelter. There are many of them in the woodlands and also in some bushlands.
Habits and lifestyle
Western pygmy possums are nocturnal and solitary. They spend the day in a nest lined with leaves in tree hollows or up amongst the leaves of trees. These possums have been found in unused bird nests or sleeping on the ground, covered by leaves or under branches and stumps. During the night they move about looking for food or mates, generally traveling 50 m or so (160 ft) per day. Over a year they may move to different areas. They have a good sense of sight, hearing, touch and taste. They spend the majority of their time up in trees, using their prehensile tails and grasping paws to hold on to branches, handle nest materials, and open up flowers to extract nectar.
Diet and nutrition
Western pygmy possums are polygynous, one male mating with multiple females. They can breed at any time of the year, though they tend to do so more often in the spring. They produce two to three litters a year with an average of four to six babies. As a female has six teats, she can have as many as six babies in one litter. Within just days after giving birth a female can be pregnant again, and while the new generation is slowly developing, she feeds the previous litter until the time they are weaned. Young are still blind at around 25 days old when they exit the pouch. They stay in the nest at first, being fully weaned at about 50 days. Females usually attain sexual maturity at around 12 to 15 months.
Year-round (more commonly in the spring)
Like almost all small Australian native mammals, the Western pygmy possum population has been impacted by introduced predators such as cats and foxes, and also habitat degradation through clearing land for crops, and altered fire regimes.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Western pygmy possum total population size. Currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red Lis and its numbers today remain stable.
These possums are prey for a number of small to medium-sized predators of the nocturnal variety. They may also play a part in pollinating plants.