Julia Creek Dunnart

Sminthopsis douglasi

Status

Endangered (State & Commonwealth)

Problem

In 1990 the Julia Creek Dunnart was known from only four museums specimens.  At that time it was impossible to tell if the species was extinct or just ‘hiding' in small areas around north-western Queensland.

Background Information

The Julia Creek Dunnart is a species of small, carnivorous marsupials on the edge of extinction.  In 1996, the accidental finding of a Julia Creek Dunnart in the stomach of a feral cat led to the discovery of live dunnarts in four locations.  Before feral cats were eliminated from this area, the cats ate at least 17 Julia Creek Dunnarts, as well as other native mammals.

Research

Dr Pat Woolley of La Trobe University, Melbourne, started searching for the dunnarts in 1991, and caught the first live animals in 1992.  By 1997 she had found skeletal remains of dunnarts from 31 locations, all on the Mitchell Grass Plains around Julia Creek and Richmond.  Live animals have since been found recently in Bladensburg National Park near Hughenden.  Feral cats have been identified as the most immediate threat to the dunnarts' survival. Weed invasion from prickly acacias is also a problem.

Solution

Monitor the only known populations of dunnarts. Control feral cats and weeds. Assess the impact of stock on grass cover and compaction of the soil. Continue survey work.

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.