Common Dunnart

The Common Dunnart is a small carnivorous marsupial which is one of 20 Dunnart species which are native to Australia.

Identification

The Common Dunnart appears mouse grey on the top of it's body with darker fur on it's head and neck, with whitish underparts and feet. They have large rounded ears and a thin tail almost the same length as their body.

Size range

Head-body length 65-100mm; tail length 68-90mm; weight 12-28 grams. 

Distribution

Their distribution range extends across south east Australia from Mackay, QLD to Fleurieu Pen., SA with the exception of the Sydney coastline. There is also an isolated population in the Atherton Tablelands in far north Queensland. 

Habitat

Common Dunnarts prefer to inhabit dry sclerophyll forests and mallee heath land.

Behaviour and adaptations

Feeding and Diet

Common Dunnarts are nocturnal insectivores whose diet consists mainly of beetles, cricket larvae, roaches and spiders. During the day they sleep in an undercover nest or shallow burrow. They have the ability to become torpid which results in temporary hibernation where the body temperature drops below 15 degrees Celsius. This is believed to be a technique which aids their survival in unfavourable conditions.

Mating and reproduction 

The breeding season has been recorded from August/September to late March during which time the males can become aggressive. Females attract a mate by making a series of ‘chit’ calls. The gestation period for the Common Dunnart is approximately 12 days and the young can be weaned after 60 days. Females are able to have two litters per year producing up 20 young. Young dunnarts reach full adult size at 150 days and it is believed that most males can only survive one breeding season before they die.

Classification 

Species: murina
Genus: Sminthopsis
Family: Dasyuridae
Order: Dasyuromorphia
Subclass: Marsupialia
Class: Mammalia
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Phylum: Chordata
Kingdom: Animalia

Sources: http://bird.net.au/index.php?title=Common_Dunnart
Strahan R., A Photographic Guide to Mammals of Australia, (1995) New Holland Publishers Ltd UK
Menkhorst P. And Knight F., A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia (2nd ed) 2004 Oxford university press


Ella Minton , Interpretive Officer
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