For three weeks in July, males embark on an exhausting mating frenzy that ultimately kills them.
Description: The Red-tailed Phascogale’s fur is mostly ash-brown, which fades to white under the belly. The tail is a deep rust colour that extends to a hairy black brush at the end. At 13–14 cm, it is almost as long as the phascogale’s body.
Diet: Red-tailed Phascogales are carnivores. They eat insects, small mammals and birds. They receive enough water through their food and therefore rarely have to drink water.
In the wild: For a three-week period in July, males embark on an exhausting and fatal frenzy of mating. They travel large distances to mate with as many females as possible. During this flurry of mating activity, the males’ immune system fails before they reach 12 months of age and they succumb to stress-related illnesses and die. Females usually survive the mating season to breed a second or third time.
Threats: Habitat destruction and introduced predators such as cats and foxes are the greatest threats to the Red-tailed Phascogale.
Did you Know?
The Red-tailed Phascogale is an excellent climber and can jump up to 2 m from branch to branch, catching unsuspecting birds.