A species of tiny pygmy possum has been rediscovered on Kangaroo Island, South Australia for the first time since the devastating bushfire season.
As the one of the world's smallest marsupials it has always been difficult to spot. The nocturnal animals weigh only 8 grammes and are rarely seen, but the island worried it might have been wiped out in the blaze. Half the 500-hectare island was burned at beginning of the year, including much of the possum's habitat.
Wildlife experts feared the worst for several species, including the Little Pygmy. To their relief, they have just been playing possum.
The Little Pygmies had managed to evade detection for over eight months.
Staff from conservation group Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife rediscovered the little pygmy while working with Zoos South Australia and 20 local landholders to assess the damage done by the fires.
Along with Western pygmy and Little pygmy possums they were able to survey populations of less adorable but equally scarce amphibians such as the Bibrons toadlet.
The pygmy possums had survived in pockets on the island sanctuary and parts of Tasmania, however the fire is thought to have affected 88 per cent of the animals' habitat.
"This capture is the first documented record of the species surviving post-fire," ecologist Pat Hodgens told the Guardian Australia.
However, he said the possums were now particularly vulnerable without the cover of their normal habitat.
"They're still not out of the woods because right now they're at their most vulnerable – as the bushland regenerates they're still very exposed to natural and introduced predators."
Wild cats and other predators had been picking off the bite sized animal, with the only possums before this discovery being found in the stomachs of feral cats.
Two lives were lost and almost 90 houses in the fires on Kangaroo Island, over December and January. It was one of the worst affected areas.
"Because we are an island we have strongholds for these species, it's going to be a few years before we know the full extent of the impact," Dianne Pearson of Kangaroo Island for Wildlife, told the BBC.
"We are now facing another bushfire season, so it's very important to look after these guys."
Last month WWF Australia released a report into the wider effects of the fires on the country's ecology. It was called "one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history," by Australian chief executive Dermot O'Gorman.
The survey estimated that 143 million native mammals were killed in the fires, which included 61,000 koalas.