Species profile

Long-tailed Planigale

Long-tailed Planigale

Photo courtesy of Lochman Transparencies.

Range and abundance

The Long-tailed Planigale is found in grasslands and savannah woodlands across northern Australia. It occurs from the Kimberley Region in Western Australia east into northwest Queensland. Its distribution is patchy and population trends are poorly known.

Description

The Long-tailed Planigale is Australia’s smallest marsupial and one of the world’s smallest mammals. It is a tiny 5.5 – 6.5 cm in head-body length, has a 4.5 – 6 cm long tail, and weighs on average 4.3 grams. It has a characteristically flattened head that allows it to move through narrow crevices and cracks in the soil. Its fur is grey-brown and its tail is long and thin. 

Ecology

The Long-tailed Planigale is a solitary hunter that lives in grassy savannah woodlands with cracking clay soils. It hunts by pushing itself through cracks in search of its prey of insects, lizards and even young mammals. The female has a well-developed pouch that contains eight to ten teats. The pouch faces to the rear to prevent soil from entering as she squeezes through narrow spaces. The four to eight young per litter first detach from the nipple at six weeks of age and stay in a grassy nest until becoming independent at three months old.

Threats

Threats to the Long-tailed Planigale are not well known. It is likely that grazing and trampling by introduced herbivores may degrade Planigale habitat by compacting the soil and removing ground cover. The species is also at risk of predation by feral cats, and negatively impacted by altered fire regimes. 


What is AWC doing?

AWC is protecting the Long-tailed Planigale and its habitat on our north Australian Sanctuaries. We implement a program of fire management and feral herbivore control, and encourage a stable Dingo population to decrease the activity of feral cats.

Did you know:

Don’t let the size of the Long-tailed Planigale fool you. Although this marsupial is tiny in size it is a ferocious predator with a tremendous appetite! It attacks prey almost as large as itself and kills its meals using repeated biting with its needle sharp teeth.