Friday, December 7, 2012

The Kosciuszko Mountain Pygmy-possum

Once again I had the incredible opportunity to help out with the Mountain Pygmy-possum monitoring program. The endangered Mountain Pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus) monitoring program has been going on in Kosciuszko National Park for at least 15 years. Some of the researchers have been involved with the program since its inception and regularly catch the same animals during the monitoring events.

A steep decline in numbers occurred following extensive bushfires in 2003 after which very few animals were captured. Over the past decade, numbers of these cute little marsupials have improved with more favourable conditions and the increased removal of feral predators. However, it is thought that this is a few as 2000 animals remaining.

I spent my first day helping out at Mt Blue Cow. The site is within the Perisher ski resort and is very popular for skiers and boarders in winter. A few years ago a large section of one of the most popular runs was fenced off from riders to protect the fragile possum population. Possum crossings have also been installed across a number of runs to allow small mammals to cross safe from the threat of predators.

Mel climbing the very rocky Mt Blue Cow

First possum for the day, so cute

More rock scrambling

Another cute possum

Twynam West Spur, one of my favourite places to ski in winter

Looks a little different in winter

Me holding the last possum we caught for the day

Wildlife crossing across the Side Saddle run

My second day helping out started at the Charlotte Pass ski resort, a short drive up Kosciuszko Road from Perisher. We started by clearing a line within the resort, a very rocky boulder field perfect for Pygmy-possums. We caught loads of possums and had fun jumping around the rocks. I didn't get any photos of this line as we had a fairly large group and were moving pretty slow as it was.

After Charlottes Pass we drove back towards Perisher to our second line of the day, The Paralyser. The line is a fair way up the valley and we spent about half an hour bush bashing to get to the first trap.

Location of the first trap, the road is way back down the valley

A sniff for freedom

The Paralyser is another of my favourite places to ski in winter. It is relatively close to the resort and offers some easily accessible interesting terrain.

Spring at the mini paralyser 

Damian on The Paralyser during one of the biggest snow falls of the 2012 season 

Lovely clear day and fresh snow on The Paralyser

We continued on our line catching a few possums and the odd fat and smelly bush rat.

A bit unsure

Posing in the sun

Love the snowgums, photos never do them justice

Rock ice shear

Definitely spring in the mountains

Knobby snowgum

We met back up with another team and shared the last few traps.

They love the boulder fields and Mountain Plum-pine (Podocarpus lawrencei)

It’s a girl

A very friendly possum

The also endangered but not as cute Guthega Skink

And we are done

We retraced our bush bash back to the car enjoying the surrounding mountains and thinking on the cute little marsupials that call them home.

A short vid of the day


  1. Those possums are adorable! Good for you helping to protect these little guys.

  2. Thanks Linda, they are super cute!

  3. This is a great post! That's worthy work indeed and those possums look so fragile! Oh yeah, snowgums always look good, but I also can't seem to get great photos of them...

  4. Thanks Greg, it was an awesome experience. One day ill get that perfect snowgum pic.