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Mountain Pygmy-possum recovery

Meet Burramys, the Mountain Pygmy-possum...

Thought to be extinct until the 1960s, one of Australia’s only hibernating marsupials, making its home close to mountain peaks, the Mountain Pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus) is extraordinary in many ways;

  • It is one of the smallest Australian possums
  • It is endemic to the alpine and subalpine regions of south-eastern Australia    
  • It does not live in trees, but in the boulderfields and rock screes
  • The Mountain Pygmy-possum enjoys a diet made up of over 50% arthropods, especially Bogong Moths (Agrotis infusa) in spring and summer
  • And, whilst thousands of people are enjoying the alpine snowfields, the Mountain Pygmy-possum is hibernating, asleep under the snow in rock crevices
  • There is estimated to be only be some 2,000 adult Mountain Pygmy-possums remaining in the wild. 

The total population of Mountain Pygmy-possum is found only in Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales and Mt Buller and Mt Bogong across to Mt Higginbotham in Victoria. These three groups are effectively isolated from one another by low elevation valleys containing unsuitable habitat for the species, essentially creating ‘islands in the sky’.

Each one of these populations of the Mountain Pygmy-possum are critically important to the survival of the species and its adaptive potential.

Mountain Pygmy-possum fact sheet

How this project aims to help the Mountain Pygmy-possum recover and thrive

This five year project is guided closely by the National Recovery Plan for the species and is delivered in partnership between North East CMA and Parks Victoria, Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board, Falls Creek Alpine Resort Management Board and Traditional Owners. Research scientists and DELWP are also involved to ensure we are doing all we can for the species in North East Victoria.

By 2023, the project aims to have contributed to stabilising or increasing the population of Mountain Pygmy-possums in all its North Eastern habitats.    

Project activities that have been designed to help the species recover include:

  • Population monitoring and baseline genetic data collection
  • Weed control to enable recovery of Mountain Plum Pine (Podocarpus lawrencei), a favourite source of food for Mountain Pygmy-possum
  • Revegetating habitat with appropriate species
  • Monitoring & control of pest animal species in Mountain Pygmy-possum habitats
  • Improving specific hydrological regimes, as a method for protecting boulderfields from sedimentation
  • Reconstruction of boulderfields in key locations

Why is the Mountain Pygmy-Possum under threat?

The Mountain Pygmy-possum is listed as endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC 1999). The most significant threats to this species are habitat loss and fragmentation, predation from cats and foxes and the impacts of climate change. Major threats to this species currently include:

  • Loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat
  • Predation by cats and foxes    
  • Decline in Bogong Moths
  • Weed Invasion and competition from introduced species
  • Erosion and sedimentation
  • Genetic loss and small populations
  • Winter impacts from ski resort operations and snow-sports activity
  • Bushfire and planned fuel hazard reduction burns  
  • Climate Change

Why are Bogong Moths so Important?

Bogong Moths (Agrotis infusa) provide the primary and most abundant food source for Mountain Pygmy-possums, especially in spring and at high elevations. Therefore any threats or actions that substantially reduce numbers of moths in the alpine and subalpine boulderfields are also a threat to the Mountain Pygmy-possum.

Potential threats to Bogong Moths may include further loss of inland native grassland habitat, application of agricultural chemicals in their breeding sites and environmental variation due to climate change, especially increased drought conditions such as in 2018.

Key Contacts

Phillip Falcke, Senior Project Officer Biodiversity phillip.falcke@necma.vic.gov.au

Marina Murua, Project Officer Biodiversity marina.murua@necma.vic.gov.au

Jess Houghton, Project Officer Biodiversity jessica.houghton@necma.vic.gov.au

Telephone: 1300 216 513


This project is supported by the North East Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria, Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board, Falls Creek Alpine Resort Management Board and DELWP,  through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.



Image credit: Dean Heinze, Ecology Links.


Storymap: Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery in the Victorian Alps

The Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery in the Victorian Alps is a 5-year project focused on improving Mountain Pygmy-possum populations in Victoria. The project has come a long way, and on-ground works continued over the last year to protect possum populations in the North East. Find out more on the project review StoryMap.

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Mountain Pygmy-possums - Rebuilding the Boulderfields

The Mountain Pygmy-possum lives in the high country of Victoria and NSW. For some of our Traditional Owners, they are a very important totem species. The typical basalt boulderfields which is their habitat have diminished. Work to maintain and supplement this boulderfield habitat has been undertaken at Mt Little Higginbotham. This video shows the restoration works in action.

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From the Bush to the Mountains

In the first part of this webinar held on 22 September 2021, keynote speaker Dean Heinze from Ecology Links, outlines the status and conservation of the Mountain Pygmy-possum. Phill Falcke and Marina Murua, both from North East CMA speak about the Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery project and the NRM Bushfire Recovery program (MPP component).

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Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery Project videos 2021

On Threatened Species Day 2021, the Hon Sussan Ley, former Minister for the Environment, launched a series of new videos from the North East CMA about the Mountain Pygmy-possum and the hard work being done to protect them.

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Stories about the Mountain Pygmy-possum project from the North East CMA and project partners.

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