Nature conservation

Threatened species

White-footed Dunnart - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Sminthopsis leucopus
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 01 Dec 2017


The dunnarts are a group of mouse-like marsupial carnivores, found throughout the continent and in every habitat. Needle-shaped incisors, five toes on the forefoot and a furred, brown tail help distinguish them from the House Mouse, which has rodent-teeth, four front toes and a naked, pinkish tail. The fur on the back and face of the White-footed Dunnart is grey-brown, and the belly is off-white. It has a fox-like face with large, dark, protruding eyes and large deeply-notched, thin ears that can be laid back against the head. The feet are pink and are covered with fine white hair. Adults have a head and body length less than 10 cm. Males are usually larger and heavier, averaging around 26 grams, while females average 19 grams. It can easily be confused with the Common Dunnart S. murina; the characteristics used to tell them apart require expert knowledge (White-footed Dunnart has striated inter-digital footpads on the hindfeet, compared to the those of the Common Dunnart which are unfused and granular in appearance).


The White-footed Dunnart occurs in Tasmania and along the Victorian and southern NSW coast. The Shoalhaven area is the species' northern-most limit. It has not been recorded west of the coastal escarpment with the western-most record being from Coolangubra State Forest, approximately 10 km south-east of Bombala.

Habitat and ecology

  • The White-footed Dunnart is found in a range of different habitats across its distribution, including coastal dune vegetation, coastal forest, tussock grassland and sedgeland, heathland, woodland and forest.
  • In NSW, the species seems to favour vegetation communities with an open understorey structure (contrasting with populations in Victoria which apparently prefer dense shrub and ground layers). It is patchily distributed across these habitats and, where present, typically occurs at low densities.
  • Breeding populations have been recorded in logged forest shortly after disturbance, but these usually do not persist as regeneration proceeds and a dense ground cover of vegetation establishes.
  • Home range and movement patterns of this species vary according to sex. Adult females usually have small, discrete home ranges, approximately 80 metres in length. Adult males have overlapping home ranges, approximately 100 metres in length, but are capable of making regular exploratory movements of up to 1 km.
  • White-footed Dunnarts appear to have only one short breeding season during their lifetime. In NSW and Victoria, mating occurs in late July and August. From August to September, up to ten young are born, each about 3 mm long. At two months, the young detach from the mothers’ teats and are suckled in the nest for about a month before dispersing.
  • The White-footed Dunnart is an opportunistic carnivore that feeds on a variety of ground-dwelling invertebrates and, occasionally, small lizards.
  • They shelter in bark nests in hollows under standing or fallen timber, burrows in the ground, piles of logging debris, in the 'skirts' of grass trees Xanthorrhoea spp.and cycads Macrozamia spp. and rock crevices.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
OceanBatemans Shelf Known None
OceanTwofold Shelf Known None
Other StateJervis Bay Territory Known None
Other StateVIC Known None
South East CornerBateman Known None
South East CornerEast Gippsland Lowlands Known None
South East CornerSouth East Coastal Ranges Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBungonia Known None
South Eastern HighlandsKybeyan-Gourock Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMonaro Predicted None
Sydney BasinBurragorang Predicted None
Sydney BasinEttrema Predicted None
Sydney BasinIllawarra Known None
Sydney BasinJervis Known None
Sydney BasinMoss Vale Predicted None