Biodiversity Blog: Devilish Dasyurids

Ever had a bad day and just wanted to chew someone's head off? Let me introduce to you the Dasyurid family.

All the critters in this fascinating taxonomic family have unusual names, including Ningaui, Phascogale, Kultarr, Dunnart and Kowari – to name just a few.

These pint-sized relatives of the Tasmanian Devil are ferocious hunters and have been known to eat insects, small lizards and small mice. They will tackle larger creatures and are fearless when it comes to acquiring their next meal.

You may be familiar with the larger Dasyurids such as quolls, but these well-known marsupials also have much smaller relatives that resemble shrews or mice in appearance, with long tails and narrow, pointed noses. But they're still carnivores; if they bare their teeth at you will see lots of small sharp teeth similar to those of a cat or dog.

Where can you see these vicious little balls of fluff? Different species of Dasyurids are scattered all across the state, from forest to mallee and desert habitats. However, they are often nocturnal and occur in areas where people infrequently visit. The most commonly seen species is the Yellow-footed Antechinus, which – if you're very lucky! – can be seen while you're bushwalking in the Adelaide Hills.

Julie Schofield
Fauna Ecologist
Conservation SA

To learn more about Dasyurids, check out some of these links:

Antechinus go out with a bang
The kowari: Saving a central Australian micro-predator
The desert-dwelling mulgara
The kowari is the cutest Australian animal you need to know about



Image by Patrick Kavanaugh under a Creative Commons License

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