At this time of year …

… it is not unheard of to come across a Brush-tailed Phascogale, also known as a Tuan, that looks like this.

Dead … as a door nail!


Male Brush-tailed Phascogale, Welshman’s Reef, 14th June 2014. Photograph courtesy Meg Norris.

These captivating carnivorous marsupials have a fascinating, albeit brief, life history. Adults mate in late autumn, after which the entire population of male Tuans die, from stress-related diseases brought about by the energy expended from a frenzy of mating activity.

The females typically make their nest in hollow trees, bearing litters of 7 to 8 young which stay in the nest to the age of 5 months. They will also happily using artificial nest boxes, as this post from last month demonstrates. They are a threatened species in Victoria, suffering largely from habitat fragmentation and fox predation. The box-ironbark forests of central Victoria are one of their remaining strongholds.

Have you found a dead Tuan lately? I’d be interested to hear about it if you have.

Thanks to Meg and Jules of Welshman’s Reef for this handy observation.

4 responses to “At this time of year …

  1. I did encounter an apparently suicidal one though! S/he was trying to cross the Maldon-Castlemaine Rd just opposite the old Gower school and I had to break heavily to avoid a collision. This was last Monday night (09/06).

  2. Not a dead one fortunately but we got a brief glimpse of a rapid grey streak rushing along a branch over our camp site and got a couple of stills and a short video of a very much alive phascogale on our night vision camera over the Anzac Day long weekend at (rather appropriately) Tuan Campsite in Chiltern NP.

  3. Captain Moonlight

    I’ve twice seen Tuans after dark on Woodbrook Road a kilometre or so from the outskirts of Castlemaine this past fortnight. One was crossing the road in the Walmer Forest Reserve and the other was just outside the reserve on the Castlemaine side. Prior to that I’d only seen one in seven years living in the area. I’m not sure if this is just luck or the Walmer Forest Reserve is having a bumper season.

    I haven’t seen a dead one but I’ll try to check out the Reserve during the day later this week. Morbid as it sounds, I wouldn’t mind a stuffed one for the mantle piece. Anyone know a good local taxidermist?

  4. There was a dead one on the road at Green Gully, two weeks ago. Prior to that I have seen a live one in Pound Lane, possibly 18 months – two years ago.

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