Brush Tailed Phascogale, Phascogale tapoatafa

The brush-tailed phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa), also known as the black-tailed phascogale, tuan, or the common wambenger, is a species of marsupial that is native to Australia. It is present in all areas of Australia, except Tasmania, but its range is highly fragmented. It was first described in 1783 by F. Meyer, but George Shaw revised that description in 1800. It is closely related to the red-tailed phascogale and holds two subspecies found in southern and northern areas of Australia. The brush-tailed phascogale is small and black in color, with a long tail that holds longer hairs. These hairs are erected when the creature is threatened, making it appear larger.

The brush-tailed phascogale is nocturnal, spending most of its time in the trees. It consumes a number of food items including nectar, small birds, and small mammals, but its main diet consists of insects and spiders. The breeding season of this species occurs between the months of June and August, after which most males die, although captive males have been known to live up to three years of age. After the breeding season, females will create burrows in the trees and give birth to litters of seven to eight young, which are weaned at about five months of age.

The brush-tailed phascogale once held a range that extended throughout Australia, but habitat loss and predation by red foxes and cats have caused this range to decrease by half. It is thought be locally extinct in some areas and vulnerable in others. Despite this, it appears on the IUCN List with a conservation status of “Near Threatened.”

Image Caption: Brush-tailed Phascogale. Credit: Friedrich Specht/Wikipedia