Wildlife warriors are fighting to protect a vulnerable marsupial whose numbers are declining in central Victoria, with cat owners urged to keep their felines indoors to save the species.
Five mature Brush-tailed Phascogales have been spotted near Daylesford during an annual monitoring program in the Hepburn Regional Park and Wombat State Forest.
The shy tree-climbing marsupial, also known as a Tuan, is classified as vulnerable in Victoria and is under threat from big cats, foxes and the impact of illegally harvested firewood.
While five of the marsupials have been spotted in the area this year, this is down from nine last year, when they were helped by good rain and an abundance of food, Parks Victoria says.
The critters live in tree hollows and forage for spiders, beetles and insects on rough-barked eucalyptus trees on the forest floor at night.
Ranger team leader Kyra Winduss said the monitoring programs are an important way to help manage parks and forests but says there are also ways locals can help ensure the species' survival.
"Local residents can help these adorable neighbours by keeping pets indoors at night and by protecting mature rough-barked trees on your property - especially those with hollows," she said.