The smallest marsupial in the world is a bloodthirsty carnivore | Trending Viral hub


It looks like a mouse with large round ears and a small pouch to house its babies. But this is not your average rodent; in fact, it is the smallest marsupial in the world. However, it should never be underestimated. The long-tailed planigale is a tiny but ferocious carnivorous mammal found in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Linette Umbrella is a biologist at the Western Australian Museum who has dedicated her career to studying the planigale, a small creature that lives in Australia. The smallest species can reach about the size of half a mouse, and the largest about three times that size.

There are currently seven species of planigale recognized and more are discovered every year. Just last year, Umbrello and his team discovered and published in two new varieties of planigales: The orange-headed Pilbara planigale known as Planigale kendricki and the Pilbara planigale of cracked clay known as Planigale tealei.

“I’ve always been more interested in the smaller marsupials – they’re super feisty and deserve some attention,” says Umbrello.

The long-tailed Planigale is a bloodthirsty carnivore

Don’t be fooled by its size, the planigale does not want to be your friend. This small carnivore is ferocious and skilled at surviving where other creatures cannot: in dry grasslands and deserts. It feeds on insects and small lizards or anything it can kill that fits in its tiny belly. These insectivores love centipedes, spiders, grasshoppers, moths and beetleswhich they grab with their candy-colored claws, often in the dead of night.

It is not only its size that makes the planigale special, but also the shape of its head. “Their heads are very, very flat from the nose to the back of the head, and that allows them to flatten themselves into small crevices to hide from predators,” Umbrello says. To avoid the harsh sun of Australia’s desert grasslands, they hide in crevices formed in the arid desert.

Brought by settlers in the 19th century to hunt rats on ships, feral cats thrived and lived on an island filled with species that were not adapted to escape them. The planigale has suffered the same fate and often falls prey to cats and foxes. “They decimated the native marsupials because they didn’t know how to hide from them properly,” Umbrello says.

Read more: Why are we so afraid of mice and other rodents?

A marsupial mouse with a bag to prove it

Nocturnal and on the move, they have long been called marsupial mice, and they have the characteristic marsupial pouch to prove it. Females give birth to, on average, six young per litter and carry them in their pouch for a few months before they are able to survive on their own in the wild. Most babies are weaned from their mothers within four months.

While we don’t know much about their conservation status because they haven’t been given the attention of some of the better-known marsupials like kangaroos, wombats and koalas, researchers believe the two newly discovered species are probably quite common. .

Some of the other species, however, are more restricted due to their smaller habitats, making them rarer. Still, its conservation status is still unknown due to habitat degradation and the introduction of predators such as foxes and feral cats.

The planigale is another fascinating mammal that, according to Umbrello, makes the continent quite special. From quokkas to Tasmanian devils, wombats and now this feisty little carnivore, Australia is home to many creatures unique to the continent.

Read more: Instead of falling asleep, these marsupials are too busy… getting busy

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