Nature conservation

Threatened species

Red-tailed Phascogale - profile

Indicative distribution


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Key:
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: Phascogale calura
Conservation status in NSW: Presumed Extinct
Commonwealth status: Vulnerable
Profile last updated: 05 Aug 2019

Description

The Red-tailed Phascogale is a small, arboreal, carnivorous marsupial with ash-grey fur above and cream fur below. Its distinctive tail grows up to 14.5 cm long, is reddish-brown on the base and ends in a brush of long black hair. This marsupial also has large, thin, reddish ears. This species is highly sexually dimorphic with males growing to 12.2 cm long and weighing up to 68 grams, and females growing to 10.5 cm and weighing 48 grams.

Distribution

Extant populations of the Red-tailed Phascogale are restricted to remnants of native vegetation throughout the wheat belt of south-western Western Australia.

Prior to agricultural expansion in the 1800s, the Red-tailed Phascogale was widespread throughout Western Australia and extended eastward to the Murray Darling basin in NSW. It was previously found in most arid and semi-arid regions of Australia. However, it suffered a significant range contraction following European settlement and is now known to occur only in the central and southern wheatbelt areas of Western Australia an area which receives an annual rainfall of between 350 and 600 mm.

Habitat and ecology

  • The Red-tailed Phascogale's preferred habitats are Allocasuarina woodlands with hollow-containing eucalypts.
  • Population numbers appear to be greatest in habitat that has been unburnt for 20 years or more. A large proportion of nest sites are in highly flammable locations, such as stands of dead Allocasuarina and the skirts and stumps of live and dead grass trees. No precise habitat information is available for the arid zone, or the southern and eastern semi-arid zone.
  • During bush fires, Red-tailed Phascogales use tree hollows above the height of flames for protection.
  • The Red-tailed Phascogale is an opportunistic predator. They generally move to the ground to feed on a wide range of insects and spiders, with a preference for those less than 10 mm in length. They also consume small birds and mammals.
  • Red-tailed Phascogales reach sexual maturity by May/June. This species exhibits an annual male die-off, where, after the winter mating period, all males die witihin one month of mating. Males live to 11.5 months, while females live up to 36 months and can reproduce two or three times.
  • The gestation period is 28–30 days, after which the female can give birth to 13 young but only a litter of six to eight are reared per year (as only 8 teats are available). Some females also breed in their second or third year.


Threats

Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region