Male Honey Possums are smaller than females, but have extremely large testes (up to 4.2% of their body weight) and the largest sperm of any mammal in the world!
Females give birth to two to three young – joeys – at any time of year, whenever food is abundant. Being a marsupial, the mother raises the tiny newborns in her deep pouch, suckling them until they’re about three months old.
In cold or wet weather they can enter a state of torpor, conserving energy by lowering their metabolic rate and internal temperature. They sometimes huddle together in a cluster to keep warm. In the wild they have quite a short life-span, living 1 to 3 years.
Threats to Honey Possums
Habitat loss is the biggest threat to the survival of Honey Possums. They rely on a rich diversity of flowering plants so that at any time of year at least one species can supply nectar.
Unlike nectar-eating birds and bats, they can’t fly to different areas to source flowers. Indeed, females with joeys are recorded moving less than 10m over several months!
Even brief food shortages can drive local populations to extinction.
Associated threats are inappropriate fire regimes; habitat loss from the water mould Phytophthora cinnamomi; and predation by cats and foxes.
It’s also predicted that climate change will result in declining rainfall and increased wildfires in the region, adversely affecting Honey Possums and their habitat.