Small Mammals and Pads

1 April, 2009

Dunnart species are notoriously difficult to differientiate in the field. In the Pilbara and Murchison regions there is evident and theoretical overlap between numerous species such as:

  • Stripe-faced Dunnart (Sminthopsis macroura);
  • Fat-tailed Dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata);
  • Hairy-footed Dunnart (Sminthopsis  hirtipes);
  • Lesser Hairy-footed Dunnart (Sminthopsis youngsoni);
  • Ooldea Dunnart (Sminthopsis ooldea); and
  • Long-tailed Dunnart (Sminthopsis longicaudata).

To determine the difference between species you often need to use more than one distinguishing characteristic. Characteristics such as:

  • Colour of upperparts, cheeks, fur, chin, tops of feet;
  • Tail length;
  • Ear shape; and
  • Arrangement of feet pads.

Foot pads are the best characteristic when determining Striped-faced Dunnart in Pilbara. For this species the interdigital pads are joined but not fused and you can generally see an arrangement of three enlarged callous knobs in the middle of each interdigital pads. The photos below are of a Fat-tailed Dunnart (last two photos)  and a Desert Mouse (first two photos).