Red-tailed Pascogale - Males Die After Mating

Red-tailed phascogaleThe red-tailed phascogale (Phascogale calura) is also called the red-tailed Wambenger. A "phascogale" (translated as "pouched weasel") is a small, meat-eating marsupial. Like kangaroos, red-tailed phascogale females grow their joeys (babies) in a pouch instead of a placenta. Unlike kangaroos, male red-tailed phascogales usually die after their first (and often only) mating. Females, however, can live to be three years old and have several litters.

This species was nearly wiped out due to the introduction of the domestic cat and the European fox, which were introduced to the continent with European settlers. Once found all over Australia, the red-tailed phascogale now only lives in a tiny part of southwest Australia. According to the Australian government, the red-tailed phascogale is endangered, although the International Union for the Conservation of Nature only classifies this species as "threatened." The red-tailed phascogale relies on trees for its survival, especially rock oaks. If the trees disappear, then so will the red-tailed phascogales.

Physical Appearance

The red-tailed phascogale resembles a smaller, longer-faced chinchilla. It's body is compact, with short legs ending in mostly hairless feet. The bottom of the feet contain pads that help the red-tailed phascogale climb trees. The body has a grey-brown coat with a white belly, chest and legs. Some individuals can appear silvery. The slim reddish tail ends in a black brush.
The face has a rose pink nose and pale rings around the large, dark eyes.

Adults grow to a total body length of 9.45 inches (240 millimeters), where the tail is slightly longer than the rest of the body. Adults can weigh anywhere from 1.23 ounces to 2.47 ounces (35 to 70 grams.)

Life Cycle and Behavior

Although the red-tailed phascogale hunts and eats at night, it can be active during the day in order to search for food. When they sleep, they mostly do so in trees. But when they hunt, they do so on the ground, although sometimes they will hunt in the trees. Red-tailed phascogales can leap up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) in order to take down small birds. But mainly, red-tailed phascogales eat insects and small mammals like the European house mouse. The red-tailed phascogale does not need to drink water as it derives all of its fluids from its prey.

Red-tailed phascogales become sexually mature when they are about 12 months old. Mating season is in July. The immune system of males fail during this stressful time, so they usually do not survive to their second year. Females have up to 15 joeys.

Picture of the red-tailed phascogale by Interllectual, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Keywords: red

The Red-tailed phascogale, red-tailed wambenger is listed as Endangered (EN), considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild, on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Some facts about the
Red-tailed phascogale

Adult weight : 0.043 kg (0.0946 lbs)

Maximum longevity : 5 years

Female maturity :330 days

Gestation : 29 days

Weaning : 90 days

Litter size : 8

Interval between litters : 365 days

Source: AnAge, licensed under CC

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