Saturday , May 8 2021

The most risky furry mammals are foxes, cats

Potoroos, rock rats, and quolls have had dubious honor from the top list of Australian mammals most at risk of being wiped out by wild cats and foxes.

A team of more than 20 scientists compiled a list of non-flying mammals that were most vulnerable to predators introduced so conservationists could better target their efforts to save them from extinction.

"We found that 63 or about one in three living mammal species are very susceptible to predation by cats and foxes," said Dr. Jim Radford of Latrobe University.

"Our study shows that introduced predators remain an important threat to many mammals, many of which depend on survival with a thread."

Potorus and the most endangered central rock rat Gilbert are at the top of the list of mammals most vulnerable to foxes and wild cats.

The endangered East Quoll and Western Barred bandicoot are also high on the list.

The team of scientists behind the study said the possibility of many mammals at risk of recovering in terms of their population depends on effective control of their biggest threat.

They say, while 10 mammal species are being aided by actions including predator-free cages or transferred to predator-free areas, further 51 species considered high risk also need help from conservationists.

Dr. Radford said cats and foxes have played a major role in at least 25 mammalian extinctions.

"Knowing which species are most at risk will help us prioritize where cat and fox control is needed most," he said.

The findings were published in the Wildlife Research journal on Wednesday.


* Gilbert's Potoroo Potorous gilbertii (very threatened)

* Middle stone-rat Zyzomys pedunculatus (very threatened)

* East Quoll Dasyurus viverrinus (endangered)

* Western Barred Bandicoot Perameles bougainville (endangered)

* Eastern Barred Bandicoot Perameles gunnii (endangered on mainland Australia)

* Rufous Hare-wallaby or Mala Lagorchestes hirsutus (endangered on mainland Australia)

* Banded Hare-wallaby Lagostrophus fasciatus (vulnerable)

* Djoongari or Shark Bay Mouse Pseudomys fieldi (vulnerable)

* Boodie or Burrowing Bettong Bettongia lesueur (vulnerable)

* Larger Stick-nest Rat Leporillus conditor (vulnerable)

* Tasmanian Pademelon Thylogale billardierii (extinct on land, living in Tasmania)

* Bettongia gaimardi Timur (extinct on land, living in Tasmania)

Source: Endangered Species Recovery Hub

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