Life Science Little pygmy possum discovered on Kangaroo Island after fears bushfires had wiped them out

Little pygmy possum discovered on Kangaroo Island after fears bushfires had wiped them out

pygmy possum
Little pygmy possums are the world's smallest possums and weigh about 7 grams. Photos: Ashlee Benc/Kangaroo Island Land For Wildlife
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A little pygmy possum has been found on Kangaroo Island for the first time since its habitat was mostly destroyed in bushfires that burnt almost half the island.

Fauna ecologist Pat Hodgens said the discovery on the west of the South Australian island, nearly one year on from the fires, was extremely exciting.

“There’s only really been 113 formal records of the species [ever on Kangaroo Island],” he said.

“So certainly not very common and, obviously, the summer bushfires burnt through much of that habitat that species had, but we were certainly hopeful that we would find them.”

Little pygmy possums are mainly found in Tasmania.

Mr Hodgens said the little pygmy possum was a difficult species to find and study, given their size.

The little pygmy possum, or Cercartetus lepidus, weighs a mere 7 grams.

A bushfire destroyed much of Flinders Chase National Park. Photo: AAP

Described as the world’s smallest possum, they can primarily be found in Tasmania, along with Kangaroo Island and sometimes on mainland South Australia and Victoria.

Conservation group Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife found the tiny creature earlier this week as part of a larger recovery effort in the wake of the summer bushfires.

Two people died and almost 90 homes were destroyed in the fires, with a significant amount of wildlife also killed.

A western pygmy possum (left) and a little pygmy possum found on Kangaroo Island.

Mr Hodgens said the group was completing extensive forest surveys to figure out what species were now left “to try to do everything we can to protect them to ensure that they hang around during this pretty critical time”.

“It’s very important now because it is kind of like the last refuge for a lot of these species that really rely on very old, long, unburned vegetation,” he said.