eastern pygmy possum

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Pygmy Possum

The pygmy possums are a family of small possums that together form the marsupial family Burramyidae. Pygmy possums range in length from about 2 to 5 inches, and usually weigh between 10 and 50 grams (0.35 and 1.76 oz). They are nocturnal and omnivorous, living on a diet of invertebrates, fruit, seed, nectar and pollen. They are excellent climbers, due in part to their prehensile tails. The five extant species of pygmy possum are grouped into two genera. Four of the species are endemic to Australia, with one species also co-occurring in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

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This cute little guy is an eastern pygmy possum (Cercartetus nanus), and it weighs just 15–43 grams. In winter when food is scarce, this Australian marsupial will fall into a state of torpor to conserve energy, curling itself into a ball and letting its body temperature fall to almost match the surrounding air temperature. This means it doesn’t need to eat or drink until the cold spell has passed.

Image thanks to Australian Conservation Foundation.