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Sandhill Dunnart (Sminthopsis psammophila)



The Sandhill Dunnart


The sandhill dunnart is a nocturnal, endangered, and looks quite similar to a common domestic mouse. Thought to be extinct until recently, the sandhill dunnart hadnít been observed in 30 years. Its main predators include owls and bats, however other small animals have preyed on the sandhill dunnart. There is very little known about this animal due to its rarity.

The population of the sandhill dunnart is quite small. Itís only current known location is on the Eyre Peninsula. The Eyre Peninsula is located on the coast of Southern Australia. The sandhill dunnart can be found in low sand dunes. Durring the day this animal prefers to hide in a structure of large spinifex. The sandhill dunnart will locate an appropriate clump of spinifex and burrow itself into the center of the clump. There is cause for concern as the survival of the animal may be determined by the growth stages of spinifex.

Sandhill dunnarts vary in color from buff to gray, getting lighter down the sides of the body with white on the underside and feet. There are dark ring around the eyes in addition to a dark triangle on the forehead. The tail is the main distinguishable trait that separates the sandhill dunnart from other dunnarts. The pattern on the tail consists of a black top with a dark tip and is lighter on the underside.

This animal prefers to eat insects but will also eat meat in occasion. Due to the reclusive nature of the sandhill dunnart, little else is known about itís feeding habits.

Unfortunately little is know of the reproductive cycle of the sandill dunnart. However, a female with 5 young in her pouch were once captured in the month of December. It is speculated that the mating season occurs some time April and July.

A scared sandhill dunnart will make a loud noise as it moves into an offensive position as a means of scaring off the threatening party. The spinifex burrows protect the animal from potential predators. Another defense mechanism of the sandhill dunnart is the color of itís fur which easily blends in with its habitat.

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Bibliography

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia, Peter Menkhorst and Frank Knight. ©(2001).

Ark on Eyre-Information Sheet Sandhill Dunnart, Ark on Eyre, 8/8/04, http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/biodiversity/arkoneyre/pdfs/sheet_8.PDF.

The Use of the Spinifex by the Sandhill Dunnart, Parks Web Biodiversity, 8/8/04 http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/biodiversity/sandhill.html.

Sandhill Dunnart, Ian Howson, 8/8/04, http://www.schoolworld.asn.au/species/dunnart.html.


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