Species

Eastern pygmy possum

Cercartetus nanus

TAXONOMY

Cercartetus nanus (Desmarest, 1818), Tasmania, Australia. Two subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Phalanger-loir de l'Est; German: Ostlicher Bilchbeutler. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length 7-7.8 in (18-20 cm). Brownish fur with gray belly. Base of tail thickened with storage fat. Tongue long, brush-tipped.

DISTRIBUTION

East and southeast of Australia, and Tasmania.

HABITAT

Heathland and dry and wet sclerophyll forest. BEHAVIOR

Mostly solitary. Constructs spherical nests of leaves and bark in tree-hollows.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds on nectar, pollen, and insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

One to three young, twice per year. May be promiscuous or polygamous.

H Cercartetus nanus accounts

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

Little pygmy possum

Cercartetus lepidus

TAXONOMY

Cercartetus lepidus (Thomas, 1888), Tasmania, Australia. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Phalanger-loir mineur; German: Zwergbilchbeutler. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length 5 in (13 cm); 0.2-0.3 oz (6-9 g). Grayish brown with belly almost white.

DISTRIBUTION

Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, and northwestern Victoria. HABITAT

Dry sclerophyll forests and mallee shrubland. BEHAVIOR

Constructs nests in tree-hollows, in wall cavities, under turf, or in birds' nests.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Insectivorous and carnivorous; preys even on lizards.

I Cercartetus lepidus I Burramys parvus

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Nothing is known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened, but rare throughout its range.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

Mountain pygmy possum

Burramys parvus

TAXONOMY

Burramys parvus Broome, 1896, New South Wales, Australia. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Souris-oppossum de montagne; German: Bergbilch-beutler.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length 9-11.4 in (23-29 cm); 1-2.1 oz (30-60 g), up to 2.8 oz (80 g) when fat is stored.

DISTRIBUTION

Two small, isolated areas in Victoria, Australia.

HABITAT

Alpine meadows and rocky, boulder-strewn areas with heath-land vegetation.

BEHAVIOR

Nocturnal, spending day in nests in crevices, under rocks, etc. Periods of torpor in winter of up to 20 days or more; female social system is gregarious, possibly kin-related; males also possibly non-solitary, but in different habitat.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Omnivore, with heavy reliance on one moth species and seeds.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Four young born after 12-16 days of gestation, leave the pouch after about three weeks, and are adult sized in three to four months. Probably polygamous.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Endangered due to its fragmented populations.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

Resources

Books

Flannery, Tim. Possums of the World. Chatswood, Australia: Geo Productions, 1994.

Kennedy, Michael, ed. Australasian Marsupials and Monotremes— An Action Plan for Their Conservation. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN Publishing, 1991.

Mansergh, Ian, and Linda Broom. The Mountain Pygmy-possum of the Australian Alps. Kensington, Australia: New South Wales University Press, 1994.

Strahan, Ronald, ed. Complete Book of Australian Mammals. Sydney: Australian Museum, 1994.

Udo Ganslofier, PhD

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