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PWS - Fires update and impacts

20/02/2019

Background: A number of fires were ignited by dry lightning that crossed the state in late December 2018 and mid-January 2019. The storms of 15 January 2019 resulted in approximately 2,400 lightning strikes and caused over 60 new ignitions.More

PWS Fire Update - Friday 15 February 2019

15/02/2019

Parks and Wildlife Tasmania (PWS) can advise the following locations, reserves and tracks have been re-opened today (Friday 15 February).More

PWS Fire Update - Thursday 14 February 2019

14/02/2019

Parks and Wildlife Tasmania (PWS) can advise the following locations, reserves and tracks have been re-opened.More

Eastern Pygmy Possum, Cercartetus nanus

Eastern pygmy possum

Like its close relative, the little pygmy possum, the eastern pygmy possum has some special adaptations to cope with the cold of Tasmanian winters. Both species go into torpor during cold spells. 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. Torpor 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.

Distribution

The eastern pygmy possum is found throughout the wetter forests of the western half of the state.

Diet

Unlike its relative, the little pygmy possum, which was erroneously once thought to be a nectar feeder, the eastern pygmy possum was once erroneously thought to be primarily insectivorous. It is in fact largely a nectar and pollen feeder, although invertebrates are also taken. This uncertainty about the diet of these small possum reflects the relatively little information we have been able to glean about the life histories of these diminutive species.

Breeding

Breeding is similar to the little pygmy possum. It occurs from late winter to spring, with four young being the usual litter size and pouch occupancy lasting about six weeks.