Our Latest News

Join us for the Power of Parks forum at Launceston

22/07/2016

Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) in partnership with the University of Tasmania is exploring The Power of Parks through a series of UTAS public forums celebrating the benefits that parks and reserves provide to Tasmania's overall identify.More

Shipwreck identified as the Viola

19/07/2016

Timber samples from a ship wrecked on Tasmania's East Coast nearly 160 years ago have been identified as the Canadian-built brig Viola.More

Prosecution for Stanley penguin deaths

15/07/2016

The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) and the Circular Head Council have conducted a joint investigation after 18 little penguins were found dead near a rookery in Stanley on the State's North-West coast last week.More

Little Pygmy Possum, Cercartetus lepidus

Little Pygmy possum

The appropriately named little pygmy possum reaches a mere seven grams and has a head and body length of only 5-6.5 cm. It is indeed the smallest of all possums.

Distribution, habitat and diet

The little pygmy possum was once thought to be confined to Tasmania, however, populations have been found on Kangaroo Island and the mallee scrublands of north-western Victoria.

It occurs throughout a range of habitats, except rainforest. It spends much of its time in the lower, dense canopies of the understorey vegetation. It is most common in drier forests and heathlands in the east of the state. The animal generally nests in the hollows of old trees. The little pygmy possum feeds on insects and lizards.

Breeding

Females give birth to up to four young which stay within the pouch for about six weeks. After this time, the young are left within the nest, occasionally travelling with the mother by clinging onto her fur as she forages.

Torpor

Being a small mammal posses difficulties during the cold of the Tasmanian winter. Its small size means that the animal has, in comparison to its body volume, a lot of skin through which to loose body heat. In other words, it has a high surface area to volume ratio. The little pygmy possum, like its close relative, the eastern pygmy possum is able to overcome these difficulties through its ability to enter torpor. This is a means by which an animal is able to reduce energy expenditure by lowering its metabolism. Its body temperature can drop to near that of its surroundings. Unlike true hibernation, torpidity generally only lasts for a few days at a time.