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Finding phascogales

August 29, 2013
Brush-tailed Phascogale

Brush-tailed Phascogale

A Focus on Fauna favourite, the Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa), was photographed recently on “Three Sisters” on the Broadford-Flowerdale Road. Since the FoF project began in late 2010 there have now been at least four phascogale sightings at widely-spaced locations on this large grazing property adjoining the Mount Disappointment State Forest, which is encouraging since much of its habitat was severely burnt in 2009. Two of those sightings were reported in previous posts on this blog – click HERE and HERE to view.

According to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, the Brush-tailed Phascogale was found on “Three Sisters” in 1932 and 1933, but there were no subsequent records in the vicinity until Focus on Fauna entries in 2011. Although this phascogale is listed as a threatened species under the Fauna and Flora guarantee Act, we are finding it is a case of the more you look, the more you find, and a greater awareness in the community as well as remote surveillance (and mobile phone) cameras are making it easier to record sightings.

Brush-tailed Phascogales have an interesting, and somewhat precarious, life-cycle. Breeding is restricted to the cooler months, with frenzied mating in May and June, after which all males die of various stress-induced diseases, with only pregnant females surviving. They give birth from mid-June to early August, following about 30 days gestation. The photo above was taken on 11th August, so this would be a female, probably with several young attached to the teats in her pouch. Most females only produce one litter and survival beyond 3 years is rare.




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