Dibbler, Parantechinus apicalis

The dibbler (Parantechinus apicalis) is a species of marsupial that is native to Australia, with a range that includes some offshore islands and the southwest mainland areas of Western Australia. It prefers a habitat within vegetation with thick debris in sandy soils. This species is the sole member of its genus, Parantechinus, which included the Sandstone dibbler. The dibbler was first described by John Edward Gray in 1842, but it wasn’t until 1947 that the species would be placed in its current genus by George Henry Hamilton Tate. Its common name is used specifically for this species, although other names have been used including the freckled antechinus and the speckled marsupial mouse.

The dibbler is small, reaching and average body length between 3.9 and 6.2 inches and a weight between 1.4 and 4.4 ounces. Its fur is greyish brown in color with white specks along the body and white also occurring around each eye. It is most active during the nighttime hours, sleeping in caves or hollow logs during the day. It has a varied diet that consists of insects, nectar, and small reptiles and its breeding season occurs between the months of March and April.

The dibbler was thought to be extinct until 1967, when it was discovered along the coast of Western Australia on Cheyne Beach. The main threats to this species are habitat loss and predation from feral cats and foxes. Conservation efforts have been conducted to help preserve the species, including a captive breeding program at Perth Zoo. The dibbler appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Endangered.”

Image Caption: Parantechinus apicalis. Credit: John Gould/Wikipedia