Animal Info - Dibbler

(Other Names: Freckled Antechinus, Freckled Marsupial Mouse, Southern Dibbler, Speckled Marsupial Mouse)

Parantechinus apicalis (Antechinus a.)

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
3. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Maximum Age, Diet)
4. References


Profile

Pictures: Dibbler #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

IUCN Status:

  • 1970's: Rare
  • 1980's: Indeterminate
  • 1994: Endangered
  • 1996 - 2004: Endangered (Criteria: B1+2ce) (Population Trend: Decreasing) (IUCN 2004)

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 2004)

Population Estimates:

[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)

Distribution 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

Weight:

The dibbler weighs 40 - 100 g (1.4 - 3.6 oz).

Habitat:

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 Australia Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005).

Age to Maturity:

10 to 11 months.

Gestation Period:

44 - 53 days.

Birth Season:

The dibbler breeds in March and April (autumn).

Birth Rate:

Up to 8 young in a litter, 1 litter per year.

Early Development:

The young are dependent upon their mother for about 4 months.

Maximum Age:

Captive females have lived for over 3 years, and a captive male has lived for at least 2 years and 8 months.

Diet:

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 plant parts.


References

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 1995, Terrambiente


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Last modified: March 11, 2005;

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