Red-tailed phascogale

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(Photo by Geoff Corrick, Bush Heritage volunteer.)

The red-tailed phascogale is a small, carnivorous marsupial native to central and western Australia. Originally widespread throughout these areas, the population declined rapidly due to the destruction of habitat for agricultural purposes and the introduction of predators such as the domestic cat and the European red fox. It is now considered endangered and can only be found in remnant bushland in the southern Western Australian wheatbelt.

 

Fully grown, an adult red-tailed phascogale can weigh between 50-70 grams and reach about 24cm in length, with more than half this being their distinctive tail. They have an ash-grey coat, with cream fur on the belly, chest and legs, and a reddish-brown tail which ends in a brush of black hair. They are arboreal, extremely agile and quite ferocious, often tackling prey almost as big as they are! Their diet includes insects, spiders, small birds and even small mammals such as the common house mouse.

 

Did you know? The red-tailed phascogale’s scientific name means “beautiful-tailed pouched-weasel”

 

Female red-tailed phascogales can live as long as 3 years, but males rarely survive to a year old – they invest so much energy into breeding that they die of stress-related illness after their first season. Breeding takes place during a very limited 3 week period in July, and this species prefers to build their nests in the hollow limbs of Eucalyptus Wandoo. Litters can be as large as 13 joeys, but only a maximum of 8 can survive because a female only has 8 nipples to feed her offspring.

 

Our biodiverse revegetation projects in rural Western Australia include Wandoo and Rock Sheoak, which are known to be the preferred habitat of the red-tailed phascogale. We are also reconnecting isolated patches of remnant bushland where these amazing little creatures live, and it is our hope that we can contribute to bringing them back from the brink. You can help us by supporting our native tree planting projects.