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The unusual reason Victorians are being urged to switch off their outdoor lights

Victorians are being urged to turn off outside lights to save the mountain pygmy possum.

The possums feed on bogong moths, but moth numbers have plummeted, so possums numbers are dwindling.

Zoos Victoria Chief Executive Dr Jenny Gray said the moths are migratory, but their migration can be halted when they become distracted by bright lights.

“They migrate from Queensland down to the high country, and we really want every moth possible to get to the high country because it’s really important for the possum, as they emerge from hibernation, that there’s lots of food around,” she told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

In good years, as many as four billion moths have made the journey, but numbers have fallen to just a few thousand.

“It’s a massive die off,” Dr Gray said.

“We think it is related to the drought that they’ve been having up in Queensland.

“When there’s only thousands moving it’s desperately important that we see them all make it.”

The moths are attracted to outdoor lights, which can delay their migration, or may even stop them completing the journey altogether.

Victorians are being urged to switch off their outdoor lights during September and October to ensure as many moths as possible make it to the high country.

“They really don’t want to spend their time in your backyard, they’re wanting to get up to the high country where it’s nicer and cool so they can spend their summer there,” Dr Gray said.

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