Nature conservation

Threatened species

Eastern Pygmy-possum - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Cercartetus nanus
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 08 Jun 2001
Profile last updated: 17 Mar 2022


Eastern Pygmy-possums are tiny (15 to 43 grams) active climbers, with almost bare, prehensile (capable of curling and gripping) tails, and big, forward-pointing ears. They are light-brown above and white below. Adults have a head and body length between 70 - 110 mm and a tail length between 75 - 105 mm.


The Eastern Pygmy-possum is found in south-eastern Australia, from southern Queensland to eastern South Australia and in Tasmania. In NSW it extends from the coast inland as far as the Pilliga, Dubbo, Parkes and Wagga Wagga on the western slopes.

Habitat and ecology

  • Found in a broad range of habitats from rainforest through sclerophyll (including Box-Ironbark) forest and woodland to heath, but in most areas woodlands and heath appear to be preferred, except in north-eastern NSW where they are most frequently encountered in rainforest. They may occupy small patches of vegetation in fragmented landscapes and although the species prefers habitat with a rich shrub understory, they are known to occur in grassy woodlands and the presence of Eucalypts alone is sufficient to support populations in low densities.
  • Feeds largely on nectar and pollen collected from banksias, eucalypts and bottlebrushes; an important pollinator of heathland plants such as banksias; soft fruits are eaten when flowers are unavailable.
  • Also feeds on insects throughout the year; this feed source may be more important in habitats where flowers are less abundant such as wet forests.
  • Shelters in tree hollows, rotten stumps, holes in the ground, abandoned bird-nests, Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) dreys or thickets of vegetation, (e.g. grass-tree skirts); nest-building appears to be restricted to breeding females; tree hollows are favoured but spherical nests have been found under the bark of eucalypts and in shredded bark in tree forks.
  • Appear to be mainly solitary, each individual using several nests, with males having non-exclusive home-ranges of about 0.68 hectares and females about 0.35 hectares.
  • Young can be born whenever food sources are available, however most births occur between late spring and early autumn.
  • Agile climbers, but can be caught on the ground in traps, pitfalls or postholes; generally nocturnal.
  • Frequently spends time in torpor especially in winter, with body curled, ears folded and internal temperature close to the surroundings.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Australian AlpsSnowy Mountains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Plains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Range Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Basalts Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Outwash Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthTalbragar Valley Predicted None
NandewarKaputar Predicted None
NandewarPeel Predicted None
New England TablelandsArmidale Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsBinghi Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsEastern Nandewars Predicted None
New England TablelandsEbor Basalts Known None
New England TablelandsGlenn Innes-Guyra Basalts Predicted None
New England TablelandsNightcap Known None
New England TablelandsNortheast Forest Lands Predicted None
New England TablelandsRound Mountain Predicted None
New England TablelandsStanthorpe Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsTenterfield Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsWalcha Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsWongwibinda Plateau Known None
NSW North CoastBarrington Known None
NSW North CoastCarrai Plateau Known None
NSW North CoastCataract Predicted None
NSW North CoastChaelundi Known None
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Known None
NSW North CoastComboyne Plateau Known None
NSW North CoastDalmorton Known None
NSW North CoastEllerston Predicted None
NSW North CoastGuy Fawkes Predicted None
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Gorges Predicted None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
NSW North CoastMummel Escarpment Known None
NSW North CoastRocky River Gorge Known None
NSW North CoastTomalla Known None
NSW North CoastUpper Hunter Predicted None
NSW North CoastUpper Manning Known None
NSW North CoastWashpool Known None
NSW North CoastYuraygir Known None
NSW South Western SlopesCapertee Valley Predicted None
NSW South Western SlopesInland Slopes Known None
NSW South Western SlopesLower Slopes Predicted None
OceanTwofold Shelf Known None
Other StateJervis Bay Territory Known None
Other StateQLD Known None
South East CornerBateman Known None
South East CornerEast Gippsland Lowlands Known None
South East CornerSouth East Coastal Ranges Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBathurst Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBondo Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBungonia Known None
South Eastern HighlandsCapertee Uplands Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsCrookwell Known None
South Eastern HighlandsHill End Known None
South Eastern HighlandsKanangra Known None
South Eastern HighlandsKybeyan-Gourock Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMonaro Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMurrumbateman Known None
South Eastern HighlandsOberon Known None
South Eastern HighlandsOrange Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Sandstones Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Known None
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandWoodenbong Known None
Sydney BasinBurragorang Known None
Sydney BasinCumberland Known None
Sydney BasinEttrema Known None
Sydney BasinHunter Known None
Sydney BasinIllawarra Known None
Sydney BasinJervis Known None
Sydney BasinKerrabee Predicted None
Sydney BasinMoss Vale Known None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None
Sydney BasinSydney Cataract Known None
Sydney BasinWollemi Known None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None
Sydney BasinYengo Known None