Sunday, April 14, 2013

N is for Noolbenger

The Noolbenger (Tarsipes rostratus) or more commonly known as the Honey Possum, is a small mouse-like marsupial native to Australia.  Honey possums are unique in that they are the last survivors of an ancient group who feed solely on nectar and pollen.

Noolbengers are nocturnal and solitary.  Males and females both have small ranges with the males' ranges overlapping the females', although the females seem to be dominant.  Because they only live 1-2 years at most, mating begins at 6 months of age and can happen at any time of year with females producing up to 4 litters a year. 

There are a couple of interesting facts about the honey possum, all having to do with reproduction.  First off, the honey possum young are the smallest young of any mammal.  This at least makes a little bit of sense due to their tiny size.  Honey possums also possess the largest testes to body size of any mammal at 4.2 percent of their body weight.  That being said they also have the largest sperm of any mammal at 0.36mm.  Yes, that's even bigger than hippos and elephants.  Pretty neat for such small critters.