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Fat Tailed Dunnart

Appearance

Fat tailed dunnarts have a light fawn coloured back with white fur on the underside which extends up to the nose. The feet and the insides of the ears are pink. Their large eyes are black as is the nose. Their tail is uniformly grey with a light covering of fur and shaped a bit like a carrot.

They are a small animal measuring just 6-7cm (2.4-2.8in) long. The tail adds a further 5-7cm (2-2.8in) to their length. They weigh between 10 and 20g (0.35-0.7oz).

Diet

Fat tailed dunnarts are carnivores. In the wild their diet consists mostly of insects. They will also eat small reptiles and mammals at times.

During the times when food is in abundance the fat tailed dunnart will eat extra food to store in its tail for when times are bad.

Scientific Name

Sminthopsis crassicaudata

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

10-20g (0.35-0.7oz)

Length

6-7cm (2.4-2.8in)

Lifespan

Wild 18 months

Captive 2 years

Diet

Carnivorous

Range

Australia is the native home of the fat tailed dunnart. Here they can be found across Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Canberra and the Northern Territory.

Habitat

They occur within deserts, shrub lands woodlands and grasslands. Populations continue to persist in areas which have been turned in to farms. They will shelter under rocks and in logs or cracks in the ground.

Reproduction

In the wild breeding takes place between June and February. Captive animals tend to breed year-round.

Gestation last just 13-14 days following which 6-10 babies are born. On average 5 of these joeys will survive to adulthood. Joeys are born about the size of a grain of rice and are pink, furless and have their eyes closed.

Young remain in the pouch for 70 days. By the end, they hang out of the pouch. Once out of the pouch the mother can carry them around on her back.

Sexually maturity occurs between their 5th and 6th month. Following this a female will have up to 2 litters a year.

Behavior

Fat tailed dunnarts are a nocturnal species.

They can tolerate living in small groups but female’s young are territorial.

When the temperature drops, they will enter torpor (a survival technique similar to hibernation) which conserves energy. This will last for up to a few days.

Quick facts

When it is cold they huddle together with the house mouse to keep both species warm. When the weather warms up the house mouse can be a prey item for the fat tailed dunnart.

The fat tailed dunnart is one of 19 dunnart species found in Australia.

Photo Credits

Copyright. The Animal Facts

References

Burbidge, A., Robinson, T., Ellis, M., Dickman, C., Menkhorst, P. & Woinarski, J. 2016. Sminthopsis crassicaudata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T40541A21948539. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T40541A21948539.en. Downloaded on 15 May 2020.

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