Mammals of Tasmania
|Chocolate wattled bat|
This species gets its name from its chocolate brown fur. Its lifestyle is similar to the large forest bat. The chocolate wattled bat has a shorter hibernation period than other species.
Forearm length: 40-41 mm, Body length: 50-60 mm, Weight: 9-10 gm.
|Eastern falsistrelle bat|
This is Tasmania's largest bat, with females averaging up to 21 gm. In all Tasmanian bats the female is generally larger than the male. The eastern falsistrelle has reddish brown fur on the back and lighter brown fur on the belly. It used to be named the Tasmanian pipistrelle. It flies quickly, catching mainly beetles from the upper canopy and produces a single young. Forearm length: 49-50 mm, Body length: 55-70 mm, Weight: 19-21 gm.
|Goulds wattled bat|
This bat has dark brown fur on the back and a black head and shoulders with lighter brown fur on the belly. Usually two young are born, remaining attached during flight. They roost in colonies in hollow trees and feed on insects in the upper canopy. Forearm length: 46 mm, Body length: 56-75 mm, Weight: 14-15 gm.
|Large forest bat|
The large forest bat is the largest of this genus in Tasmania. These bats have dark grey to dark brown fur all over. They are found in all forest types including rainforest and catch insects from the mid canopy to the understorey. They only produce a single young at a time. Forearm length: 35 mm, Body length: 40-60 mm, Weight: 6 gm.
|Lesser long-eared bat|
The long-eared bats are so called because of their long, strongly ribbed ears (up to 25 mm in length) which can be folded back when at rest. These bats have light grey-brown fur on the back and paler fur below. They fly slowly close to the ground, occassionally alighting on low vegetation. They are found in urban areas. Forearm length: 39-41 mm, Body length: 40-50 mm, Weight: 8-10 gm.
|Little forest bat|
This is the smallest Tasmanian bat. It produces a single young and roosts in tree hollows. The little forest bat has mid to dark grey for on its back and dark grey fur with lighter tips on its belly. Forearm length: 29-30 mm, Body length: 40-50 mm, Weight: 4-4.5 gm.
|Southern forest bat|
A small bat, slightly larger than the little forest bat and may be distinguished by reddish brown fur on the back and lighter brown fur on the belly. It used to be called the King River eptesicus. Forearm length: 32-33 mm, Body length: 45-55 mm, Weight: 5-5.5 gm.
|Tasmanian long-eared bat|
Nyctophilus timoriensis sherrini
This is Tasmania's only endemic bat species. It is larger than the lesser long-eared bat and has ears up to 30 mm in length. This bat has dark grey-brown fur on the back and slightly lighter fur on the belly. It mainly eats non-flying insects which it casptures from the vegetation. It often flies close to the ground searching for food. Forearm length: 46 mm, Body length: 60-75 mm, Weight: 13 gm.
Carnivorous Marsupials and Bandicoots
The dusky antechinus (Antechinus swainsonii) is a typically-sized carnivorous marsupial, with males averaging 65 grams (females average 41 grams). It is a dark grey to black in colour.
|Eastern Barred Bandicoot (T)|
The endearing eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunni) is a small (640 grams) marsupial characterised by a slender, elongated head tapering to a pink nose and well whiskered muzzle. It has large, prominent ears. Its soft fur is greyish brown, while across the hindquarters are the characteristic pale bars or stripes that give the species its name. These easily distinguish it from the brown bandicoot, which lacks such strips. The belly, feet and short, thin tail are creamy white.
Male eastern quolls (Dasyurus viverrinus) are about the size of a small domestic cat averaging 60 cm in length and 1.3 kg in weight; females are slightly smaller. They have soft fur that is coloured fawn, brown or black. Small white spots cover the body except for the bushy tail which may have a white tip. Compared to the related spotted-tail quoll, the eastern quoll is slightly built with a pointed muzzle.
|Southern Brown Bandicoot|
The southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus) is easily distinguished from the eastern barred bandicoot as its fur is a relatively uniform, grizzled, dark brown and rather coarse to touch. Its muzzle, ears and hindfeet are shorter than those of the eastern barred bandicoot, and its tail is dark brown in colour.
|Spotted-tail Quoll (T)|
The spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus - or tiger cat as it was once inappropriately known) is the second largest of the world's surviving carnivorous marsupials. Spotted-tailed quolls vary from reddish brown to dark chocolate brown with white spots on the body and tail (unlike eastern quolls which do not have spots on the tail). The species is considerably larger than the eastern quoll, with males measuring up to 130 cm long and 4 kg in weight. Females are significantly smaller than males.
The swamp antechinus (Antechinus minimus) is a similar weight to its relative, the dusky antechinus, but is distinguished by its slightly shorter snout.The fur is brown in appearance, with lighter shades on the underneath of the animal
|Tasmanian Devil (T)|
The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) cannot be mistaken for any other marsupial. Its spine-chilling screeches, black colour, and reputed bad-temper, led the early European settlers to call it The Devil. Although only the size of a small dog, it can sound and look incredibly fierce.
Perhaps the least well-known of the Tasmanian marsupials is the tiny white-footed dunnart (Sminthopsis leucopus). This small (20-30 grams) carnivorous marsupial is one of a dozen or so described species of dunnart occuring in Australia.
Echidnas and Platypus
The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), with its duck bill and webbed feet, is a unique Australian animal
Echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus), or spiny ant eaters as they are sometimes known, are familiar to most Australians. Echidnas are monotremes (mammals that lay eggs).
Possums, Kangaroos and Wombats
The Bennetts wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus), known as the red-neckedwallaby on mainland Australia, is one of the states's most commonly seen native animals. Visitors to most of our national parks are highly likely to encounter these animals during their stay.
The Common Brushtail Possum is the best known of all our possums because it has adapted to living in our cities and suburbs. As the suburbs overtake natural areas, animals are forced to live in close quarters with people. While we are privileged to be able to observe our fascinating native animals at such close quarters, living with wildlife, however, has its own special problems.
|Common Ringtail Possum|
Like all ringtail possums, the common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) has a strongly prehensile tail which acts as a fifth limb, and which is carried tightly coiled when not being used. It can be distinguished from the brushtail by the light covering of fur on its tail, as well as the white tail tip.
The common wombat is the largest burrowing herbivorous mammal. Indeed, it is such an accomplished burrower that early settlers called it a 'badger', a term that is still heard today. However, the closest relative of the wombat is, in fact, the koala. With its short tail and legs, characteristic waddle and 'cuddly' appearance the wombat is one of the most endearing of Australia's native animals.
|Eastern Pygmy Possum|
Like its close relative, the little pygmy possum, the eastern pygmy possum (Cercartetus nanus) has some special adaptations to cope with the cold of Tasmanian winters. Both species go into torpor during cold spells. Its small size means that the animal has, in comparison to its body volume, a lot of skin through which to loose body heat. In other words, it has a high surface area to volume ratio. Torpor is a means by which an animal is able to reduce energy expenditure by lowering its metabolism. Its body temperature can drop to near that of its surroundings. Unlike true hibernation, torpidity generally only lasts for a few days at a time.
The Forester kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) is the largest marsupial in Tasmania and the second largest in the world - males can reach over 60 kg and, when literally on tippy toes, stand 2 m tall! Colour varies from light brownish grey to grey. They have a thicker tail than other macropods and have relatively large ears. They differ from the other two species in having hair between the nostrils and upper lip. They often make clucking sounds between themselves and give a guttural cough when alarmed.
|Little Pygmy Possum|
The appropriately named little pygmy possum (Cercartetus lepidus) reaches a mere seven grams and has a head and body length of only 5-6.5 cm. It is indeed the smallest of all possums.
Potoroos (Potorous tridactylus) reach 1.3 kg in weight and range in colour from red-brown on the west coast to grey on the east coast, with paler fur on the belly. Most individuals have a white tip at the end of their tail. The potoroo may also be identified by its darker colour, and its larger, more pointed nose which has a bare patch of skin above the nostrils.
|Sugar Glider Possum|
It is likely that the sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) was introduced to Tasmania, possibly in the early decades of the nineteenth century. The lack of skeletal remains in subfossil bone deposits and the lack of an Aboriginal name for the animal supports the view that it was introduced. The animal's scientific name translates: 'short-headed rope-dancer' - a reference to its adept movements high in the canopy.
Bettongs (Bettongia gaimadi) typically reach 2 kg in weight and are coloured brown-grey above and white below. The tail of the bettong is as long as the head and body while; in comparison, the tail of the potoroo is significantly shorter.
The pademelon (Thylogale billardierii) is a stocky animal with a relatively short tail and legs to aid its movement through dense vegetation. It ranges in colour from dark-brown to grey-brown above and has a red-brown belly. Males, which are considerably larger than females, have a muscular chest and forearms, and reach up to 12 kg in weight and 1 - 1.2 m in overall length, including the tail. Females average 3.9 kg in weight.
Rats and Mice
The broad-toothed mouse reaches a weight of 150 grams and head and body length of 16 cm. It has a grizzled sandy brown to dark brown coat. It is similar in appearance to the swamp rat, which can also occur in similar habitat.
The long-tailed mouse is the only species of rodent endemic (restricted to) Tasmania. The species reaches about 70 grams in weight and is distinguished by its two-tone tail - white below and dark above. The tail is longer than head and body.
|New Holland Mouse (T)|
The New Holland Mouse is one of only two mammals listed as rare under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995. (The other is the NZ fur seal). It only occurs in low numbers - and much of its habitat is unprotected. Full details of the measures being taken to ensure its future survival can be found at our threatened species site.
This common species occurs in a variety of habitats, ranging from wet and dry sclerophyll forests to buttongrass moorlands and coastal heath. It forms extensive systems of runways beneath dense vegetation. Grasses and sedges form the main component of the diet, although insects are occasionally taken.
The water rat, as its name implies, is well adapted to its semi-aquatic life. It possess webbed feet and water-repellent fur. Along with the platypus, it is the only Australian mammal specialised for an aquatic niche.
|Australian Fur Seal|
The Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) is the world's fourth-rarest seal species and, with its Conspecific, the Cape fur seal, it is the largest fur seal in the world. Hunted to the brink of extinction last century, population recovery has been slow, and seals are now wholly protected.
|Australian Sea Lion|
The Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) has a breeding range which extends from islands off Western Australia to islands east of Kangaroo Island (South Australia). The total population size of this species is estimated to be 10,000 animals. The Australian sea lion once bred in Bass Strait but was eradicated by the sealing industry.
The crab-eater seal breeds on the Antarctic pack ice; however, there have been over 20 reports of this species on the Australian mainland.
Leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) are one of the most awesome marine predators and the only seal to regularly prey on warm-blooded animals such as penguins, birds and other seals. Female leopard seals are actually larger than males and can reach 600 kg and 3.6 m in length. Leopard seals are more slender than elephant seals, having a long streamlined body, constricted neck and a massive lizard-like head. They are coloured grey above and light grey below with dark spots (hence the name 'leopard' seal).
|Long Nosed Fur Seal|
The long-nosed fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) is found in West Australia, South Australia and New Zealand. In Tasmanian waters, it mainly occurs on the west and south coasts. Only a small number of long-nosed fur seals (previously known as the New Zealand fur seal) breed on remote islands off the south coast. The total population in Tasmania is 350-450. About 100 pups are born annually. Like the Australian fur seal, not all pups will survive. Australia-wide, the population is estimated to be 58,000.
|Southern Elephant Seal|
Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) are the largest of all seals with males reaching 4-5 m in length and 3 500 kg in weight. Females are much smaller at 2-3 m in length and only 500 kg in weight. Southern elephant seals are coloured rusty grey-brown and are covered with thick blubber. Mature males have a large 'trunk', or proboscis which is used to amplify their vocalisations and, together with their bulk, gives rise to their name 'elephant' seal. They often appear cumbersome and indifferent to humans yet, despite their awkwardness, the speed with which they can move their bulk makes them potentially dangerous if harassed.
|Sub-antarctic Fur Seal|
The sub-antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus tropicalis) is rarely seen in our waters but there have been several sightings of this species at Bass Strait Australian fur seal colonies during the 1990s. This species is difficult to distinguish from the Australian and New Zealand fur seals that breed in Tasmanian waters.