Saturday, April 19, 2014
Creature Feature #182: Dunnart
There are 21 species of Dunnart, a mouse-sized marsupial found in Australia and New Guinea. Her diet consists predominently of invertebrates and small vertebrates such as frogs. Some species, like this Fat-Tailed Dunnart, can survive in very arid environments. Every night she consumes her weight in food, storing the excess nutrients in her tail in the form of fat. This provides an energy reserve. If conditions get too cold, and food too scarce, she can enter into a state of torpor. Her body temperature lowers, heart rate drops. The Dunnart is unique in being the only mammal capable of doing this while also nursing young. She has also been known to share burrow space, and warmth, with the common mouse - a risky business for the mouse, because she is a predator and has been known to hunt small rodents.