Red-Tailed Phascogale Fact File
The red-tailed phascogale, also known as the red-tailed wambenger or the red-tailed mousesack, is a species of carnivorous marsupial.
Their range has been significantly reduced since European settlement. This is primarily due to to the introduction of predators such as the cat and red fox.
Red-tailed phascogales are found in woodland where they will move with ease through the trees. They descend to the ground when looking for their food which is primarily invertebrates.
Males are so active during the breeding season that it makes their immune system weaken meaning that they all die within a week of one another.
Learn more about these marvelous marsupials below.
The red-tailed phascogale is a small species of carnivorous marsupial. Their body is covered with ashy-gray fur on the back with white on the underside. The ears are reddish in color and a blackish patch sits in front of the eye.
At the end of the body is a long tail colored reddish-brown up to the tip which ends with a brush of long black hairs. This tail measures between 12 and 14cm (4.7-5.5in) long.
Males are larger than females. On average they measure 10cm (3.9in) long with males having an average weight of 60g (2.2oz) compared to 43g (1.5oz) in weight for females.
Red-tailed phascogales are carnivores. Their diet primarily includes invertebrates though small birds and mammals may also be eaten.
Most of their water needs are provided through their food but they will also drink standing water.
Australia is the native home of the red-tailed phascogale. Once found from New South Wales across South Australia, the Northern Territory and in to Western Australia they are now restricted solely to Western Australia.
Introductions are underway in parts of their former range by conservation groups with a view to re-establishing the species there.
They make their home in woodland. Some records exist from shrubland and scrub-heath.
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Mating takes place during winter with a three week breeding window in July. Females will breed at the same nesting site each year.
Females give birth to a maximum of 13 young after a 28-30 day gestation period. Only eight of these will survive as the females have eight nipples.
The joeys rely on their mother for milk during August and October.
Young begin to disperse and find their own home before the end of February.
At the conclusion of the mating season all of the males pass away and are replaced by the juveniles next season. Females may live for up to 3 years giving them the opportunity to breed three times.
In captivity males have shown the ability to live for multiple years.
These animals are nocturnal emerging from their tree hollow nests at night to feed. Some have been observed during the day when they will emerge to feed.
Red-tailed phascogales are nocturnal and move through the trees with ease. They have the ability to leap up to 2m (6.6ft) across. They may come to the ground to feed or find water.
When running they can move at high speeds.
During bushfires they will move to nest hollows above the fireline where they can avoid the flames.
Predators and Threats
Introduced predators such as the domestic cat and red fox are among the largest threats to the red-tailed phascogale.
Humans affect their population through habitat loss and fragmentation. Habitat clearing is primarily for agricultural development. Fire regimes are also a threat.
The red-tailed phascogale is also known as the red-tailed wambenger or the red-tailed mousesack. In parts of their range they are known by their indigenous name of Kenngoor.
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Interllectual, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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