(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

The western pygmy possum, scientific name Cercartetus concinnus, also referred to as the southwestern pygmy possum or the mundarda, is a small marsupial present in Australia. Genetic research point out its closest relative might be the eastern pygmy possum, from which its ancestors diverged around eight million years ago.

Western Pygmy Possum Overview

Western pygmy possums are terrestrial mammals that reside in temperate forests in Australia. These pygmy possums are arboreal and have a tendency to nest throughout the day in a tree hole stuffed with leaves, however can even nest on the ground in clumps of twigs.

They desire habitats with a dense shrubby understory that gives shelter and meals. They are most ample within the woodlands of southwest Western Australia, and will also be present in some bushlands.

While small remnants of bushland can present appropriate habitat, they are probably not massive sufficient to assist viable populations of western pygmy possums within a long time period.

Structurally various habitats are necessary for nesting and touring. Western pygmy possums desire to travel utilizing clumps of twigs or leaf litter as cover, indicating that various ground cover ought to be a spotlight of conservation efforts.

Western pygmy possums are small, nocturnal marsupials. Adults average 80 mm in body size, with an 86 mm long tail to assist them when shifting by way of foliage. The average weight of an adult is barely 13 grams.

They are fawn or reddish-brown on the dorsal side and are white ventrally with a finely-scaled bare tail. These pygmy possums have noticeably whiskered and brief, pointed snout, very massive eyes that are properly tailored for seeing at night, and skinny rounded ears. For comparability, western pygmy possums are not any bigger than a typical kiwi fruit.

Female western pygmy possums look after and shield their younger till they attain independence, however little is understood in regards to the particulars of parental funding and improvement in these possums.

Western Pygmy Possum

Geographic Range

Western pygmy possums are discovered solely on the Australian continent, more particularly within the southwestern, southern, and southeastern parts of Australia. Cercartetus concinnus has been present in solely 50 places throughout the New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia areas of the continent.

Western Pygmy Possum Description

The western pygmy possum is uncommon in Cercartetus, as, in contrast to its gray family, the fur over most of its body is a vibrant cinnamon color. It has pure white underparts, which additionally distinguishes it from its family, and has a skinny ring of darkish brown fur in front of the eyes.

It possesses long and rounded flesh-colored ears, massive and black protruding eyes. The muzzle is barely sparsely coated in hair, exhibiting the pink color on the naked components. The species has long whiskers.

The prehensile tail is long and coated with fantastic scales, reasonably than fur, and never enlarged on the base. The hind feet have opposable first digits, whereas all 4 feet have broad pads on the ideas of the toes.

Although small in contrast with most different possums, it is, without doubt, one of the bigger pygmy possums, with adults, starting from 70–100 millimeters in head-body size with a tail 70–90 mm long.

Adult weight ranges from eight to 18 grams. The feminine has a well-developed pouch, opening to the front, containing six teats. At as much as 12 mm in size, the tongue is unusually massive for such a small animal.

Western Pygmy Possum Distribution and habitat

This possum is susceptible because of habitat loss and lack of meals. The distribution range contains Southwest Australia, on the south coast and the Wheatbelt, and areas of South Australia, Kangaroo Island, and Victoria south to Edenhope.

It can also be present in far southwestern New South Wales, the place it’s listed as endangered. It inhabits semi-arid woodland, shrubland, and heath, dominated by vegetation equivalent to Callistemon (bottlebrushes), melaleuca, banksia, and grevillea.

Although there had been beforehand regarded as two subspecies, separated in distribution by the Nullarbor Plain, genetic research hasn’t revealed any vital distinction between the eastern and western populations. Furthermore, whereas the species is now not native to the world, fossils from the Nullarbor Plain area are recognized.

Western Pygmy Possum Behavior

The western pygmy possum is solitary and nocturnal. During the day, they shelter in tree hollows or different natural crevices, birds’ nests, or dense vegetation.

At night, they travel searching for meals or mates, usually shifting around 50 m (160 ft) every day, they usually might migrate to totally different areas over the course of a year, relying on native plant sources.

They spend most of their time within the timber, utilizing their greedy paws and prehensile tails to grip onto branches, grasp nest supplies, and open flowers to entry nectar. They have been described as making a speedy chattering noise.

Western pygmy possums are nocturnal and primarily arboreal. During the day they reside in a leaf-lined nest in tree cavities or within the leaves of timber. Some western pygmy possums have been discovered sleeping in unused bird nests and on the ground, sheltered by leaves or below stumps and branches.

It feeds totally on nectar and pollen, particularly from vegetation equivalent to melaleuca and eucalyptus, and will play a job within the pollination. It additionally dietary supplements its diet with bugs.

Native predators embrace quolls, snakes, and owls, though, in modern occasions, the animal additionally falls prey to launched carnivores equivalent to red foxes and home cats.

Western Pygmy Possum

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Western pygmy possums have the flexibility to enter torpor throughout inclement or chilly climate, enabling them to preserve energy and meal reserves. During bouts of torpor, which can final for as much as seven days at a time, body temperature falls to inside one degree Celsius of ambient, and oxygen consumption to simply 1% of regular.

They sleep on their fronts, with their ears folded over their eyes, and their long tails coiled beneath their bodies. Compared with different mammals of comparable size, they rouse from torpor unusually rapidly.

Based on their basic biology and morphology it was initially thought that western pygmy possums have been primarily insectivorous. Research executed by Horner in 1994 discovered an abundance of Banksia pollen within the feces of western pygmy possums, with no invertebrate stays present.

However, soft-bodied invertebrates, like pupae and larvae, are normally assumed to be completely digestible and wouldn’t be present in any scat samples. These possums are presently thought of as nectarivorous, however may additionally be insectivorous. They have additionally been discovered to prey on small lizards.

Communication

Like different pygmy possums, western pygmy possums have eager senses of vision, listening to, style, and contact. They most likely use chemical cues to speak reproductive state.

Western Pygmy Possum Reproduction

Western pygmy possums can breed all through the year, though they achieve this more generally within the spring, and provides delivery to litters of 4 to 6 younger.

The mom typically carries more than six embryos at a time in her womb, however as a result of she has solely six teats, and the marsupial younger stay hooked up to a person teat for a lot of their early lives, six is the utmost quantity she is ready to rear.

Unusually, nonetheless, the mom might give delivery simply two days after weaning a previous litter, together with her teats dramatically altering in size to accommodate the smaller younger, and the mammary glands reverting to the production of colostrum.

Western Pygmy Possum Reproduction

Little information on mating programs in western pygmy possums is obtainable within the literature.

Western pygmy possums can breed year-round when circumstances are favorable. However, females can make use of delayed implantation whether it is necessary to delay reproduction till environmental circumstances are more appropriate for reproduction.

Females usually enter torpor to flee poor environmental circumstances, equivalent to low temperatures or decreased meal sources, and implantation of the embryo happens when circumstances are once more favorable.

Female western pygmy possums differ from different members of the Burramyidae family in that they’ve six teats of their forward-facing pouch, reasonably than 4. Breeding can happen anytime all through the year.

A typical feminine might give delivery to 2 or three litters of as much as 6 younger in a year. The younger usually stay within the pouch for his or her first 25 days, after which they’re transferred to a nest.

Western Pygmy Possum

The younger are nonetheless blind after they go away the pouch at around 25 days of age; they initially stay throughout the nest and are totally weaned at around 50 days. Females attain sexual maturity at 12 to 15 months old.

Conservation

The species is presently labeled as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, a number of Australian states (New South Wales and South Australia) and particular person parks and conservation areas have nationally listed it as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered because of the strain from vegetation clearing, the discount of meals sources (overgrazing of livestock), fireplace regimes, and launched predators such because the red fox and feral cats.

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