Nature conservation

Threatened species

Mitchell's Hopping-mouse - profile

Indicative distribution


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known
predicted
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: Notomys mitchellii
Conservation status in NSW: Presumed Extinct
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 05 Aug 2019

Description

Mitchell's Hopping-mouse (Notomys mitchellii) is a bipedal rodent with large back legs, similar to a jerboa or kangaroo rat. Individuals are a sandy grey colour, with white chest hairs and a paler underbelly. The tail of the species is long and has the characteristic hopping-mouse brush at the tip. This tail morphology is thought to aid balance when travelling at speed. It is the largest member of the genus Notomys, weighing between 40 and 60 g. Neither male nor female N. michellii have the gular pouch that is present in the other Notomys.

The species is not currently considered to be threatened with extinction nationally, but its range has been reduced through habitat disturbance and destruction associated with European settlement in Australia.

Distribution

Notomys mitchellii was first discovered in the area of the junction of the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers, New South Wales. In some areas, including the Nullarbor region of South Australia, the species inhabits areas of malle vegetation which lack a significant understorey. In other parts of its range, such as the Eyre Peninsula, eastern South Australia and western Victoria, N.mitchellii is found in areas with a relatively dense understorey, typically mallee-broombush and malle-Triodia associations. In Western Australia, the species is been found in similar habitat, including malle Melaleuca and malle-Leptospermum associations.

Although the species is considered to be ‘secure’ nationally, it has been estimated that between of 50-60 per cent of N. mitchellii’s range has been cleared for agricultural purposes. This range reduction has occurred principally in the eastern and western extremes of N. mitchelli’s distribution and the species appears to be confined to remnant patches of native vegetation, where disturbance has been minimal.

It has been reported that N. mitchellii is no longer found in the semi-arid region of New South Wales where the species was first identified.

Habitat and ecology

  • Mallee shrubland associations are the typical habitat of N. mitchelli, especially areas with sandy soils and slight sand dune formations.
  • Being nocturnal, Mitchell's Hopping-mouse shelters during the day in typical hopping mouse burrows; a small number of interconnected, vertical shafts, burrowing deep into the dune. Up to eight animals, different ages and sex, have been found in a single burrow.
  • Mitchell's Hopping-mouse is omnivorous although seeds and plant material (roots, stems, leaves) make up the majority of the the diet. The proportion of green material in the diet is thought to be correlated with periods of drought, indicating that N. mitchelli is less able to extract adequate water from dry seed than other species of the genus. Mitchell's Hopping-mouse produces concentrated urine to conserve water, but in a different way to more arid-dwelling rodents.
  • A litter for a Mitchell's Hopping-mouse is 3-5, with a gestation period of about 40 days. The young are weaned at approximately 35 days. N. mitchellii is known to have a lifespan of up to five years in the laboratory and this is thought to be a strategy evolved to combat the breeding-constraints during lengthy periods of drought.


Threats

Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region