Fauna in Focus - the Slender-Tailed Dunnart
Jun 28, 2016
The common dunnart occupies a wide range of coastal and subcoastal habitats in the Burnett Mary region including heathland areas, wet and dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands. However, although referred to as common, this species has a patchy distribution throughout its range and faces a number of threats to its survival.
Habitat loss, through land clearing and fragmentation, is deemed to be a significant threat to this little marsupial. Vegetation structure is important for small mammals; dunnarts tend to avoid open microhabitats and prefer habitats that are more structurally complex. A complex structure provides the dunnart with a safe haven from predators and an increased number of sites to rest. Isolation of suitable habitat and a loss of connectivity across the landscape can impede the dunnarts ability to colonise new areas and compromise the evolutionary development of the species.
Predation by feral and domestic animals could have severe impacts on populations of the common dunnart. The European red fox Vulpes vulpes and the feral cat Felis catus predate primarily upon small to medium sized mammals. Other culprits include wild and domestic dogs, domestic cats and even cane toads.
In addition, the size of the dunnart is such that it may be mistaken for an introduced rodent such as the house mouse Mus musculus and deliberately killed or accidentally caught in traps set for mice and rats.
How can we help small native mammals like the dunnart to survive?
- Consider managing some of your property for conservation to protect habitat and vegetation structure
- Report feral animal sightings to the relevant local authority and keep domestic dogs and cats indoors or restrained from wandering at night time.
- Learn more about our native mammals and how to identify them