Our precious possum in the snow, the pygmy possum, has won the bronze medal! Finishing third after a great fight is it only was not enough to secure a place in the Australian Mammal of the Year Grand Final; these amazing marsupials missed out on another exciting count!
That means our final two for Australian Mammal of the Year are the southern curved bat and the dingo!
Voting to determine the most popular pick of the contest is now open for two days, to ensure everyone has a chance to enter and vote, and will close on Thursday, August 25th at 10am AEST!
We will then announce the victor, filmed from the Adelaide Zoo with a spokesperson for the species and streamed live on the Cosmos Facebook and Twitter accounts at 12pm AEST.
So don’t forget to tune in to see which amazing mammal will be crowned Australia’s first mammal of the year.
Give a round of applause to the mountain pygmy possum!
Name: mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus), also known as burramys
Mate: Body length 11cm, tail length 15cm; weight 35g (after hibernation) – 80g (pre-hibernation)
Eating pattern: Invertebrates including the endangered Bogong moth, native fruits and seeds.
Habitat: Limited to just three small locations on Australia’s highest peaks in the Alpine Zone.
State of conservation: Critically endangered.
Superpower: Super snoozer! These possums hibernate under the snow for 5-7 months every year! They are also Australia’s most impressive yo-yo dieters, losing half their weight and gaining weight every year.
The mountain pygmy possum is a truly unique Aussie fighter. It has an amazingly soft fur, big bright eyes, a cute pink nose with sideburns, small but nimble little pink hands and a long tail that can curl into a tight spiral.
The mountain pygmy possum is Australia’s only mammal to be found exclusively in the Alpine region – on Mt Kosciusko in NSW, and on Mt Buller and the Bogong High Plains in Victoria. The possums hibernate under the snow for 5-7 months every year, causing their breathing and heart rate to slow down, their body temperature dropping to 2-3°C and their metabolism by 98%. They curl their tails and tuck their noses into their pouch (females) or under their heart-shaped scrotum (males) to keep warm, which resemble small, fluffy opossum balls. During their hibernation they can lose half their body weight, but between spring and autumn they double that again.
After hibernation, the little possums wake up from their big slumber, hungry for their favorite food – and for love. Males make their way from lower in the mountains to the highest peaks where females wait in their spring boulder-field boudoirs. And boy, are they making up for lost time: Both men and women choose multiple mates, based largely on scent and genetic disparity. Females have a short gestation period of about 13 days and give birth to up to four small cubs, each of which resembles a pink jellybean. Because females mate with more than one male, they can give birth to mixed paternity litters. Tiny opossum babies born at the same time can have different fathers! It’s a very smart way to increase the genetic diversity of your litter. In late summer and fall, the possums fill up with invertebrates, fruits, and seeds to prepare for their frosty winters. Females stay in the best and highest habitat, while males travel back down the mountain to sleep and dream of their next love journey.
The mountain pygmy possum is a species of the “Lazarus”. It was known only from the fossil record until it was rediscovered alive in a ski chalet on Mt Hotham in 1966. Unfortunately, by this time introduced cats and foxes roamed its habitat, fires had raged, and historic habitat destruction had taken its toll. Climate change further threatens the survival of this possum in the snow. The mountain pygmy possum is critically endangered with probably less than 2,000 possums. Fortunately, passionate possum conservationists and a mountain pygmy possum recovery team help guard the possums, control predators, conduct captive breeding and research programs, replant habitats, and build new love tunnels to harbor males and females. help meet and mate. After the recent collapse of the migratory Bogong moth (an important food source for the pygmy possum, recently added to the IUCN Endangered Species List), opossum professionals came back into action, increased monitoring, developing a supplemental food called Bogong Bikkies, and asked the public to log all sightings of Bogong moths via Moth Tracker and to turn off their lights for the Bogong moth.
This little Australian icon is amazing, and one we can all be proud of.
Final 2: dingo VS southern curved wing bat
Dingo (canis dingo or Canis familiaris)
Southern Curved Bat (Miniopterus orianae bassanii)
If you’re not sure which mammal to vote for, click the links above to read their species profiles or watch the video below with the experts who wrote them!
And, of course, learn a little more about our incredible mountain pygmy possum.