Recently, researchers at Australian Wildlife Conservancy were checking some of the animal nest boxes at North Head Sanctuary, hoping someone would be inside. They approached one of the boxes and were thrilled to find a tiny animal, smaller than a pinky finger, who weighed only 7 grams.
This was an incredible sign.
The little animal was a baby eastern pygmy possum, one of the smallest possums in the world. Finding the possum was great news, showing that possum populations at the sanctuary were improving. If this possum was here, it meant that there were many more.
“It’s always a nice surprise finding a mum at home with new juveniles during our nest box checks,” Dr. Viyanna Leo, a researcher at the conservancy, told The Dodo, explaining that eastern pygmy possums at the sanctuary “are a reintroduced population, so coming across new, healthy juveniles is a positive sign that individuals are happily breeding and adding to the population.”
The Conservancy is on a mission to restore native mammal species to this part of Australia, and in doing so, improve the ecosystem.
Eastern pygmy possums are nocturnal. Because they’re so small and rarely out during the day, it’s very exciting to see one. During cooler months, researchers can hold the drowsy possums during routine checks.
“You can often remove them from nest boxes, and they will continue sleeping in your hand,” Leo said.
This baby will live with his mother in their nest for a bit longer before becoming fully independent and setting off on his own. As possum populations continue to grow and thrive, it’s becoming clear that the little guy has a bright future.