Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths
CSIRO Publishing, 2021
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
High in the snowy mountains of the Australian Alps an amazing story of life plays out each year, one that was thought to have long since ended but a chance discovery at Mt Hotham in 1966 gave hope.
The story of the mountain pygmy possum and its relationship with the migration of the bogong moth is told in this beautifully illustrated book, bringing to life the tiny creature’s dependence on them for food. In the warmer months, the moths migrate to the mountains where the pygmy possum gorges on them to build up the fat reserves it needs to survive in its little nest deep beneath the winter snows. But as urbanisation expands, climate changes and droughts hit. many moths do not make it to their mountain homes (there has been a 99.5% decline in populations in five years and it is now on the IUCN red List) meaning there is less food for the possum. With only 2500 left in three isolated populations in the alps, this could lead to those earlier fears coming true.
As with One Potoroo, once again CSIRO Publishing have brought the plight of one of our lesser-known endangered species to light in a picture book that will have broad appeal. Apart from the information embedded in the story, there are extra pages that give much more insight into the possum’s life and habitat and how we can help.. Something as simple as turning off excess lights or drawing the curtains if your home is part of the moths’ migratory path can mean they won’t get distracted and can fly on.
Clifford’s illustrations are works of art in themselves – their detail is exquisite offering much to explore – and the whole really offers food for thought, not just for those who live in this region but also those who enjoys its winter snows. If there is a tiny pygmy possum surviving the winter beneath their feet, what else might there be? And what else might be living in other habitats that we take for granted? As usual. there re comprehensive teachers’ notes directly linked to the Australian Curriculum to support its use in the classroom.