Daring Dasyurid

April 2011

I have found what I think is a small marsupial on our cat who is obviously a hopeless hunter.  In the end we had to cut some fur off our cat as the little critter had a mouth full and would not let go. Close examination has shown that it has white eye rings and a black tail tip.

Can you identify the species from these photos?

We think it may be an Antechinus but most books say they are uncommon. Does this mean they are rare or just that you are unlikely to see them?

I have also attached a photo of the cat hanging his head in shame. I think we will have to take his cat card off him for a while.

Answer

The animal attacking your cat is indeed a marsupial, more specifically a Yellow-footed Antechinus (Antechinus flavipes). These carnivorous marsupials belong to the family Dasyuridae and are one of the few small nocturnal marsupials still seen around gardens and houses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While termed as “Uncommon” in most books, this generally means that the species is not regularly seen but is still know to occur in an area. The diet of the Yellow-footed Antechinus consists mainly of insects but can include items ranging from flowers and nectar to small birds and even house mice. They are often described as having “cat-like” teeth, but these are rarely used to munch on actual cats. In fact when consulting most books on Australian Mammals, you will see cats listed as one of the main threats facing this species. It is certainly entertaining to see the tables turned.

 

We absolutely loved your photographs here at the museum, thanks so much for sending them in.

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