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The common native animal you’ve never heard of

Brush-tailed phascogale. Image: Dr Meg Edwards Hidden Vale Wildlife Centre

They may not be as common as a kangaroo or wallaby, but while these little native animals are not endangered, they are rarely seen.

A brush-tailed phascogale is small mammal that belongs to the same family as Tassie devils, dunnarts and quolls.

Brush-tailed phascogales are nocturnal and live in the treetops.

They display shy behaviour and also move very fast so people don’t often see them.

These small animals can often be confused with a small brush-tailed possum.

They are a similar size and both share a bushy tail.

Hidden Vale Wildlife Centre manager Dr Andrew Tribe said they are spectacular to watch in the wild.

“They are really beautiful, they have a big fluffy tail and they move very quickly,” Dr Tribe said.

“They can almost jump in a 360 degree circle.”

Dr Tribe said people can sometimes hear them running around on their rafters.

“A rat might get the blame but brush-tailed phascogales can sometimes get into rooves,” he said.

“The difference is they don’t chew like rats do.

“There are plenty of them around Ipswich particularly to the northern side.”

Brush-tailed phascogales are carnivores who feed on insects, skinks, geckos, mice, and also flowers and bits of vegetation occasionally.

They spend most of their time up in the trees where they nest in hollows however they do come down to dig in the soil and leaf litter looking for insects.

Brush-tailed phascogale facts

Body length: 200mm

Tail length: 190mm

Weight: 180g

Threats: Cats and destruction of large trees with hollows.

Brush-tailed phascogales are rat-sized grey mammals with a black ‘bottle-brush’ tail. They have cat-like teeth.

Females have a rudimentary pouch that looks like a circular flap of skin.

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