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Elusive marsupials found in central Victoria

Monday 14 May, 2018

One of Victoria’s most elusive and vulnerable marsupials, the Brush-tailed Phascogale, has been found near Daylesford, in central Victoria.

Five mature phascogales, three males and two females, were spotted during an annual monitoring program in Hepburn Regional Park and Wombat State Forest. The monitoring program is a joint-effort between Parks Victoria; Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP); and students studying conservation and land management at Federation University TAFE.

The Brush-tailed Phascogale (also known as a Tuan) is a shy tree-climbing marsupial with a distinct black bushy tail. It lives in tree hollows and forages at night on spiders, beetles and other insects on rough-barked eucalyptus trees, fallen logs and amongst leaf litter on the forest floor.

The marsupial is listed in Victoria as ‘vulnerable’, and faces threats from cats, foxes and the impact of illegally harvested firewood.

This monitoring program revealed a slight decline in phascogales compared to last year, when numbers were elevated because of good rainfall, an abundance of food, and the stage of their natural lifecycle.  The monitoring program has also revealed that the population around Daylesford has shown no decline in its genetic diversity even though statewide the species is highly fragmentated.

Parks Victoria manages 4.1 million hectares of the state; a diverse park system that protects thousands of species of native plants and animals. Around 80% of rare and threatened native animals have been recorded in Victoria’s parks and reserves.

Quotes attributable to Parks Victoria, Ranger Team Leader, Kyra Winduss:

We’ve been delighted to see these healthy animals during the monitoring program.”

“Local residents can help these adorable neighbours by keeping pets indoors at night and by protecting mature rough-barked trees on your property – especially those with hollows.

“At a time when the phascogale’s habitat is highly fragmented and predation is a threat, it’s even more important to have these monitoring programs to guide the management of our unique parks and forests.”

Quotes attributable to DELWP, Natural Environment Program–Program Manager, Nathan MacDonald:

“This long-term monitoring project is providing land managers, such as DELWP and Parks Victoria, with important information to help in the development of best practice actions in phascogale habitat.”

Quotes attributable to Federation University, Teacher, David Coutts:

“Federation University, TAFE Conservation & Land Management students benefit from the opportunity to assist with a significant long-term monitoring program.”

“Working closely with staff from Parks Victoria and DELWP, students gain wonderful fieldwork experience and an opportunity to get up close to Brush-tailed Phascogales.” “Assisting with monitoring Brush-tailed Phascogales is one of the highlights of the year the students.”

Media enquiries
Josh Maher
0448 373 986

Parks Victoria media centre