Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Phascogale - is this a blood thirsty killer?

I'm considering adding a "Lovely's question of the day" to this site as he asks his questions so well and helps me understand what I need to include on this blog.  A property not far from us if for sale and it includes about 100 acres of bush.  Now Lovely is fast becoming a tree hugger but still has a bit to learn and he knows that eastern grey kangaroos need open grasslands, as well as forest, to survive and so he was musing whether it might not be good for some of the forest to be turned into grasslands for the roos.  "But there are phascogales in there." I cried.  Well his look was something to behold.  He turned and said "What are they?"  Now Lovely is an intelligent man, so it's not my intention here to send him up, it simply occurred to me that if Lovely has never heard of a phascogale, then probably most Aussies don't know what they are either, let alone anyone from overseas, and this is probably part of the reason
they are on the NSW threatened species list.  So let's correct that educational oversight.

The phascogale (fass-co-gale) belongs to the family dasyuridae which are carnivorous marsupials. (mammals with pouches).  This family is pretty diverse and includes larger animals like quolls, down to quite tiny carnivorous creatures like the antechinus, (OK coming soon to this blog - I'll share information on the  quoll and the antechinus, for the moment it's enough you know it is often mistaken for a mouse).
 Our local phascogale is the brush-tailed phascogale and it was once referred to as a "blood thirsty killer."  The truth is it lives in trees, has a lovely black bushy tail and it's total length from nose tip to tail tip is about the same length as your forearm.  It weighs about 200g or a bit heavier than the average handsfree phone.   It's great to have around because it eats, amongst other things - cockroaches and spiders.  They are extremely agile and can jump 2 metres between trees.  The book I love for all things Aussie aniamls is "The Mammals of Australia" by Ronald Strahan and it says this cute creature was "known to the ealiest settles in Sydney."  So why are we losing them?  The clearing of scrubby bush, the loss of tree hollows for them to breed in, both by loss of trees and introduced honey bees moving into hollows and they are killed by foxes and cats. 

So not a blood thirsty killer at all, just a cute furry creature taking care of any insect population explosions.  Now I don't have a photo of one, as I haven't been lucky enough to see one here yet, however they should be here and the fellow selling the property not so far away swears he has seen them.  So if you'd like to know more, or see a photo of one, here are a couple of links.

http://www.threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/profile.aspx?id=10613

www.dec.wa.gov.au/component/option,com_docman/task,doc.../Itemid,/

1 comment:

  1. Found your blog courtesy of Tracee, am enjoying it greatly :)

    ReplyDelete

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