Researchers at Australian Wildlife Conservancy recently checked the animal nest boxes at North Head Sanctuary when they discovered a small animal inside one of the boxes. They were delighted to find a baby eastern pygmy possum, one of the smallest possums in the world.
Did you know it weighed only 7 grams and was smaller than a pinky finger?
This finding was great news for the possum populations at the sanctuary. This finding indicated that their efforts at restoring native mammal species to this part of Australia are becoming successful.
World’s smallest baby animal
The Eastern pygmy possum is a small and rare marsupial that inhabits the southeastern region of Australia, including the states of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. It is famous as one of the smallest possums in the world. It only has an average length of 6 to 10 cm and an average weight of 7 to 23 grams.
These tiny creatures have soft and woolly fur coats varying in color from dark gray to light brown. They have a long, prehensile tail that helps them balance and move around trees and big ears that help them hear even the slightest sounds in their environment. Eastern pygmy possums are also nocturnal, which means they sleep throughout the day and are active at night.
Eastern pygmy possums are known for their impressive reproductive ability. Do you know that female eastern pygmy possums can birth up to three litters annually? They reproduce with an average of two young per litter. The young are born underdeveloped and continue to grow and develop inside the mother’s pouch for several weeks after birth.
Despite their impressive reproductive ability, Eastern pygmy possums have been considered a threatened species due to habitat loss, predation by feral cats and foxes, and climate change. The efforts of organizations like the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, who are working to restore the populations of these animals and their habitat, are crucial to ensure their survival.
Nest box of surprise
Dr. Viyanna Leo, one of the researchers at the conservancy, stated that finding new and healthy juveniles during their nest box checks was always a welcome surprise. Because these eastern pygmy possums are a reintroduced population, Leo added that discovering a baby possum was a positive sign that individuals are happily breeding and contributing to the population’s growth.
Eastern pygmy possums are nocturnal creatures, and it is rare to see them during the day. During cooler months, researchers can hold these drowsy possums during routine checks. According to Leo, they often remove them from nest boxes, and the possums will continue sleeping in their hands. However, the baby possum will continue living with its mother in their nest for a while before becoming fully independent and setting off independently.
Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s goal
The Australian Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to restoring native mammal species in this part of Australia, aiming to improve the ecosystem. As possum populations continue to thrive and grow, it’s clear that the discovery of the baby eastern pygmy possum is a sign of good things to come.