Animal Info - Dibbler
(Other Names: Freckled Antechinus, Freckled Marsupial Mouse, Southern
Dibbler, Speckled Marsupial Mouse)
Parantechinus apicalis (Antechinus a.)
1. Profile (Picture)
2. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where
Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons
3. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation
Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Maximum Age, Diet)
#1 (43 Kb JPEG) and Dibbler #2
(40 Kb JPEG) (Morcombe 1967)
The dibbler weighs up to 100 g (3.6 oz). It is thought to be largely nocturnal. On the mainland it now occurs in dense heath
habitat in coastal areas, with a history of no recent burns. Its present distribution is
probably in its preferred habitat. It eats insects, small reptiles and nectar. Up to 8
young are born once per year.
In the early 19th century the dibbler was widely distributed over the southwest of Western
Australia. It was recorded from the Moore River
Region to King George Sound. It has since experienced a 90 percent decline in its
historically known range. By 1967, it was thought to be extinct, but it was rediscovered
in that year (Morcombe 1967)
on the southern coast of Western Australia. Currently it is found on
Boullanger and Whitlock Islands off the southwest coast of Western Australia, as well as
in Fitzgerald River National Park, Arpenteur Nature Reserve, Waychinicup National Park,
Torndirrup National Park and near Ravensthorpe.
Habitat fragmentation has likely contributed to the dibbler's decline. Other factors may
include predation by introduced foxes and cats and too frequent burning of habitat.
Status and Trends
- 1970's: Rare
- 1980's: Indeterminate
- 1994: Endangered
- 1996 - 2004: Endangered (Criteria: B1+2ce) (Population Trend: Decreasing)
Countries Where the Dibbler Is Currently Found:
2004: Occurred in Australia (2 small islands and 3
widely scattered mainland locations, all in southwest Western Australia). (Kennedy 1992; IUCN
[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]
- Australia (Boulanger and Whitlock Islands)
- 1990: 300 (Boulanger and Whitlock Islands; does not include the 3 mainland populations) (Flannery 1990)
History of Distribution:
In the early 19th century the dibbler was widely distributed over the southwest of
Western Australia. It was recorded from the Moore
River Region to King George Sound. The only other historical collections outside this area
are some from an unknown location in South Australia. It has since experienced a 90
percent decline in its historically known range. By 1967, it was thought to be extinct,
not having been seen for 83 years, but it was rediscovered in that year by
Michael Morcombe (Morcombe 1967). It was found on
the southern coast of Western Australia and appeared to be quite common there. Populations
in several other locations have since been discovered.
Currently, the only readily detectable populations are on Boullanger Island (26
hectares/65 acres) and Whitlock Island (8 hectares/20 acres), located in Jurien Bay off
the southwest Western Australia coastline. Animals have been caught (or carcasses
collected) irregularly in Fitzgerald River National Park, Arpenteur Nature Reserve
(Cheynes Beach - now called Hassell Beach), Waychinicup National Park, Torndirrup National
Park and near Ravensthorpe. (Maxwell et al. 1996)
Map (4 Kb GIF) (Maxwell et al. 1996)
Threats and Reasons for Decline:
Habitat fragmentation has likely contributed to the dibbler's decline. Other factors
may include predation by introduced foxes and cats and too frequent burning of habitat.
Data on Biology and Ecology
The dibbler weighs 40 - 100 g (1.4 - 3.6 oz).
The dibbler lives on coastal sandplains in areas where waist-high heathland thickets
containing many stunted banksias have developed and there is no history of recent burns.
The colony on Boullanger Island occupies a different habitat. There are no trees to climb,
and it apparently spends 80% of its foraging time in seabird burrows.
The dibbler lives in the Southwest
Age to Maturity:
10 to 11 months.
44 - 53 days.
The dibbler breeds in March and April (autumn).
Up to 8 young in a litter, 1 litter per year.
The young are dependent upon their mother for about 4 months.
Captive females have lived for over 3 years, and a captive male has lived for at least
2 years and 8 months.
The dibbler eats insects, reptiles and nectar. Those on Boullanger Island apparently
feed upon a wide variety of invertebrates, small
birds, reptiles and occasionally house mice, as well as a considerable amount of green
Burbidge & McKenzie 1989, Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons.
Intl. 2005, Flannery 1990, IUCN 1994,
IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000,
IUCN 2003a, IUCN
2004, Kennedy 1992, Maxwell
et al. 1996, Morcombe 1967, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Oryx 1967a, Strahan
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Last modified: March 11, 2005;