Wildlife Wednesdays: White Lemuroid Ringtail Possum | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 8th 2022

Wildlife Wednesdays: White Lemuroid Ringtail Possum

The White Lemuroid Ringtail Possums are the miniature version of polar bears. They do not like the heat and are struggling with the impacts of climate change. These tiny, furry mammals are very close to the edge of extinction in which scientists have judged them already "ecologically extinct." They live in the forest slopes, a.k.a. "cloud forests," of Mount Lewis, in the Daintree Rainforest located in Queensland, Australia. They are only found in the high-altitudes and cannot survive temperatures above 86 degrees F (30 degrees C), as they are unable to maintain their body temperatures.

The climate on Mount Lewis is rapidly changing and has been for years. At one time, thousands of possums existed on the mountain. However, in 2005, a severe heat wave killed off most of them. They were thought to be extinct back in 2009, but in July of 2014, scientists surveyed the area and found 4-5 adults! This was great news, as it showed they were recovering after the heat wave. Sadly, even if the population regrows, with warming temperatures and more heat waves expected across this area of Australia, they will have nowhere left to climb, and will become officially extinct in the near future. Climate change is also creating unusually drier wet seasons, giving an increase to potential forest fires. This would also affect the few possums that are left. 

As temperatures continue to warm, scientists warn of an "ecological catastrophe" that could affect thousands of species living in Australia's rainforests. The vision to keep them alive. That means global warming needs to be kept below 1.5 degrees C in order for these little guys to survive at the top of the mountain with a suitable habitat.