Threats to Red-tailed Phascogales
Red-tailed Phascogales are listed as nationally ’vulnerable’ under the EPBC (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) Act and considered Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). One of their primary threats is habitat loss and fragmentation from the widespread clearing of habitat for agriculture and development, and changed fire regimes.
Foxes are a threat when phascogales are active on the ground, but they can escape to the trees. Cats, however, are able to climb and can significantly impact on a population.
What’s Bush Heritage doing?
In 2010 our Ecologist Angela Sanders received a phone call from a colleague at the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife who was looking for a place to translocate Red-tailed Phascogales.
Our Kojonup Reserve was a great candidate – it was part of their former range, it had Wandoo, it had Sheoak, plus we’d been controlling foxes for many years and no cats had been recorded on the reserve.
The idea was simple – moving a small proportion of a phascogale population from elsewhere in the wheatbelt and establishing a new, self-sustaining population on Kojonup.
Between 2010 and 2011 around 30 phascogales were released onto Kojonup Reserve just before their mating season. Trees were fitted with wool-lined boxes to allow safe nesting and to increase their chances of survival.
The results have been astounding. Recent surveys suggest they’ve started to spread out of Kojonup Reserve and into neighbouring bushland.
“We’ve been seeing more individuals every year since 2011,” said Angela. “Since these critters are short-lived, all of these would have been born at Kojonup, which indicates the phascogales are breeding – a wonderful sign."
"It’s really great habitat and it probably hasn’t had phascogales on here for 50 or 60 years, so it’s really good to put them back."
Climb up the tree. Open the nest box. And look inside...
The secret life of phascogales
Bradley, A.J. (1990). Seasonal effects on the haematology and blood chemistry in the red-tailed phascogale, Phascogale calura (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Australian Journal of Zoology. 37:533-543.