Friday, June 24, 2011

Fat-tailed False Antechinus found on LfW property in Alice Springs

Fat-tailed False Antechinus, Pseudantechinus macdonnellensis. This bloke was only caught by his foot and was released without harm.
There was a bit of excitement in the Land for Wildlife offices this afternoon. Another interesting native animal has been found in a mouse trap on a Land for Wildlife property. The beautiful photograph above shows the Fat-tailed False Antechinus found on a property out in Ilparpa. This is one of the group of carnivorous marsupials know as dasyurids. The clear reddish or orange marks behind the ears are a good indicator of the identity of this species. The tail will grow fat when they have had a particularly good season of scoffing insects. The very fat tail on this one suggests that it's been a very good year indeed.

These can be fairly common around rocky areas in Central Australia, but are not commonly observed due to their mainly nocturnal habits.

While this one got away unharmed, it is yet another example of one of our beautiful locals getting caught in a trap set to catch feral mice. Ooldea Dunnart, Stripe-faced Dunnart, Spinifex Hopping Mouse, Sandy Inland Mouse; we've a long list of native species that haven't been so lucky in encounters with mouse traps this year.

If you want to set traps to keep the mice at bay around your home, there are plenty of alternatives to lethal spring traps. My favourite is the bucket trap; a wine bottle is set on its side with the neck overhanging the edge of a table. Put some peanut butter inside the neck of the bottle as bait and a bucket underneath to catch the mice as they slip off the glass neck. The conventional lethal version of this trap will have the bucket half filled with water to drown the mice, but it is just as effective if the bucket is empty. This way, if you get the occasional native, it can be released outdoors without harm. One Land for Wildlife member has six of these set up around their property and in one trap alone has caught 109 mice in one night! An extraordinary total, and a good indicator of the effectiveness of these traps. For this industrial scale operation the bucket has been swapped for an empty 44 gallon drum.

As always, keep an eye out for anything that looks or behaves a bit different to the everyday feral house mice. If you have something that you're unsure of, try to get some well lit, well focused photographs, from a varity of different angles. Email these to the Land for Wildlife coordinators at We'll get the boffins to work and get back to you with a name for your critter in short order.

Below are some links to a few websites which offer some alternatives to the non-lethal trap described above. As with everything, the design of a moustrap is limited only by your imagination. If you have your own special design of mouse trap that you've found to be effective, we'd love to see some pictures or hear of your success.

Click here for a simple explanation of the bucket trap design using a cardboard cylinder in place of the wine bottle.

Click here for some very elegant, even artistic, designs.

Some folks obviously have a lot of spare time.

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