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Yellow-footed Antechinus

Antechinus flavipes flavipes

Description:

My first encounter with this amazing mini marsupial. Also known as Mardo, it's a mostly nocturnal species about the size of a small rat, and from my observations, is lightning-fast - I watched it dart in and out of its tree hollow numerous times. I feel so blessed to have spotted this fellow in broad daylight. A member of the family Dasyuridae, antechinus is a marsupial, although its pouch is poorly developed, and despite its size and appearance is not a rodent at all, but is in fact, related to the cat-sized quolls as well as the Tasmanian devil. The teeth of antechinus are also ‘cat-like’ with no prominent front incisors. One notable feature of the species is its sexual behavior. *Males live for exactly eleven-and-a-half months, dying from stress-induced immune system breakdown about two weeks after mating. Females, especially from larger species, may live longer, with around 30 to 50 per cent raising two litters, while only ten per cent of females from smaller species live long enough to breed again. Dying after only a single reproductive event is known as semelparity, and is vary rare in vertebrate species. Among mammals, it is only known to occur in insect-eating marsupials, and until fairly recently was thought to exist only in antechinus, but has now been identified in a small handful of other dasyurid genera. *Info sourced from ABC Science page. See reference link. PS: Another species considered for this spotting was Antechinus stuartii, the brown antechinus, although only Antechinus flavipes has been documented in this national park. Antechinus stuartii, however, has been recorded in the Brisbane area and would be my second ID choice.

Habitat:

Occupies a variety of habitats, often in moist bracken, lantana and creek verges, in arid scrubland and sclerophyll forest, coastal heaths and swamps. This antechinus lives in a tree stump, situated on the verge of a small rainforest pocket at Lake Manchester, a freshwater reservoir west of Brisbane. It is located in Brisbane Forest Park, an area of dense native bushland and subtropical rainforest.

Notes:

Only by sheer chance did I spot this antechinus - it was nothing more than a peripheral flash, but enough to make me turn back and take a closer look. It also took me an hour to get the main photos in this set. He stuck his head out of the lower opening of the stump a few times, so it was there that I focused all my attention, not realising there were other 'secret' exit points in this abode, and I was being spied upon cautiously from above (last photo). I moved in as close as I dare and remained as quiet and still as possible, but my backpack grew heavy, my feet went to sleep and my leg cramped. All I could do was sit it out and hope for another sighting, and perhaps a few decent photos. I think this is a male because a scrotum seems to be visible (fourth photo). Or perhaps this is part of a pouch, thus a female? Regardless, once fully-emerged from the stump, he began scratching at the wood with his claws, and then spun around in the opposite direction and scratched again (third and fourth photos). Perhaps this is a territorial or mating display? This action was repeated several times.

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26 Comments (1–25)

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thanks, Michael. Most people, even here in Australia, don't know of its existence. We are the lucky few :)

Michael Strydom
Michael Strydom a year ago

Gongrats for SOTD.. really cool,little guy. Never new he existed. Awesome!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thanks for the congrats, DrNamgyalT.Sherpa, and for your very kind words, Rob. It was a very enjoyable creature to watch, and I learned so much when researching it afterwards.

triggsturner
triggsturner a year ago

Brilliant Neil! Love the series and the notes. Congratulations on your sotd. What a great find and the patience to get the images. Thank you for sharing this.

DrNamgyalT.Sherpa
DrNamgyalT.Sherpa a year ago

Congrats Neil!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Oh, and Maria, I'd heard of Antechinus but had never actually seen one. For me, the researching of a new species is as fun as the actual spotting itself. I tend to go a bit overboard with my notes, but I think they're as important as the photos. I always feel cheated when spottings have zero info, so perhaps I over-compensate? Regardless, I learned a lot about this species too :)

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

I'm honoured, Daniele. Thank you so much for the Spotting of the Day. It was an exciting spotting for me. And many thanks to you all - Sarah, Pam, Felix, Mark and Maria, for your congrats.

Maria dB
Maria dB a year ago

What an adorable little animal. And fascinating information about the life of this species - I'd never heard of them and learned a lot. Thank you!

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway a year ago

Brilliant spotting and great series Neil. Congratulations.

Felix Fleck
Felix Fleck a year ago

Nice one, Neil. Congrats.

pamsai
pamsai a year ago

Congrats Neil. This little cutie really deserved it - not to mention your recording of it !

SarahWhitt
SarahWhitt a year ago

Way to go, Neil!! CONGRATS on your SOTD!!

DanielePralong
DanielePralong a year ago

Congratulations Neil, this most excellent series is our Spotting of the Day!

"Not a rodent! Our Spotting of the Day is a is lucky encounter with a Yellow-footed Antechinus (Antechinus flavipes flavipes), a small marsupial native to Australia and part of the family Dasyuridae. Many dasyurids are small and somehow mouse-like, and go by the misnomer of "marsupial mice". They primarily feed on insects, but their diet also includes lizards, fruit, and flowers. Antechinuses' main claim to fame is rather unfortunate: males live for exactly eleven-and-a-half months, passing away from stress-induced immune system breakdown shortly after mating. Dying after a single reproductive event is known in biology as as semelparity. It occurs mostly in insects such as mayflies, in some spiders and in octopuses, and is is much less frequent for vertebrates".

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Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thanks, Hema. Absolutely adorable, and so photogenic despite being so shy.

Hema
Hema a year ago

great portrait of this adorable creature.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

He has a fortress tree stump. It looked pretty solid to me, even by people standards. Feral cats are actually their greatest threat.

SarahWhitt
SarahWhitt a year ago

Uh oh...well hopefully, he has a good hide-out!! :)

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

I think way too cute for his own good, Sarah. I saw a couple of tawny frogmouths earlier in the morning, and they would love to meet him.

SarahWhitt
SarahWhitt a year ago

OH!! How exciting!! He is such a CUTIE!!
:)

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Adorably so, Pam.

pamsai
pamsai a year ago

so cute, Neil

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thank you, Christine, maplemoth662, Sukanya and Daniele. I didn't know what I had spotted at first. After a while I knew it wasn't a rat, but could be a Fawn-footed Melomys as they do occur in this national park. I was so excited at that prospect, but had no idea I had spotted something totally different, and a marsupial at that.

DanielePralong
DanielePralong a year ago

Great find Neil! Fantastic series.

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta a year ago

Aww....such a cutie. Thanks fir sharing...First time I am seeing this species.

maplemoth662
maplemoth662 a year ago

Very cute....

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

QLD, Australia

Lat: -27.48, Long: 152.78

Spotted on Jul 14, 2018
Submitted on Jul 14, 2018

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