Australia: Pygmy possums discovered on Kangaroo Island after extinction fears

Pygmy possum's only grow to around five to 12cm in length. Credit: Ash Benc/Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife

Pygmy possums have been found on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island for the first time in almost a year after a devastating fire ripped through the island leaving many thinking the tiny marsupials had gone extinct.

Volunteers with an Australian conservation group trapped animals crossing unburnt patches of land on Kangaroo Island and found the tiny marsupial in the undergrowth.

Pat Hodgens, Fauna ecologist with Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife, said the species was detected for the first time since the beginning of the 2020 bushfires.

Wildfires ripped through the island during the 2019-2020 summer, destroying almost half of all vegetation and most of the pygmy possum's habitat.

The wildfires destroyed almost all of their habitat Credit: Ash Benc/Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife

Pygmy possums can grow between five to 12cm long and can comfortably fit on a grown human's fingertip.

Due to their nocturnal lifestyle and tininess they can be hard to find in the wild.

The Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife, a voluntary, biodiversity conservation program that aims to provide safe havens for plants and animals, joined fauna recovery efforts across the island.

The animals are so small they can fit on a finger tip. Credit: Ash Benc/Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife

The group said it surveyed 20 fauna sites with 16 staff on the ground and captured close to 200 animals of over 20 different species.

“Lots of cool insects, frogs, skinks, snakes and small mammals caught with weights and measurements taken to help us better understand Kangaroo Island’s wildlife and guide recovery efforts post fire,” the group wrote on its Facebook page.