Dibbler

Parantechinus apicalis
Freckled marsupial mouse, Southern dibbler, Speckled marsupial mouse
Dibblers are found in south-western Australia. The natural range of this species includes Fitzgerald River National Park and the islands of Boullanger and Whitlock, while translocated populations inhabit Escape Island, Peniup, and Stirling Range National Park. The ideal habitat for these marsupials is dense heath environment with areas of sandy soil.
500-1,000

population size

2-3 yrs

Life span

40-100 g

Weight

10-16 cm

Length

Disrtibution

Dibblers are found in south-western Australia. The natural range of this species includes Fitzgerald River National Park and the islands of Boullanger and Whitlock, while translocated populations inhabit Escape Island, Peniup, and Stirling Range National Park. The ideal habitat for these marsupials is dense heath environment with areas of sandy soil.

Habits and lifestyle

These crepuscular animals spend their daytime hours resting in their shelters, which are logs or sites between rocks. Periods of increased activity are dawn and dusk. When chasing prey, these marsupials are able to jump and climb trees if necessary. Dibblers are mainly solitary animals, although reintroduced populations of this species are known to gather in groups of up to 100 individuals. These amazingly agile animals easily run through impassable undergrowth. Communication system of dibblers is unknown. However, they may vocalize during the mating season, although these calls are not intended to attract mates. Currently, there is no information on the ways these animals attract mates and sense environment, although their close relatives generally use senses of sight and smell.

Diet and nutrition

Dibbler is a carnivorous animal, which primarily feeds upon spiders and insects, complementing its diet with nectar, berries as well as birds, reptiles and mice.

Diet

Mating habits

Dibblers are polygynandrous (promiscuous): this is when both males and females have multiple mates. Mating occurs between March and April. Males of this species can breed multiple times during the year, while females usually breed only once a year. Gestation period is quite long for small dasyurids, lasting for 44 - 53 days, yielding up to 8 babies. Young remain in the pouch of their mother, becoming independent only after 3 - 4 months old. By September-October, young leave their mother and disperse. Sexual maturity is reached at 10 - 11 months old.

Mating behavior

Reproduction season

March-April

Pregnancy duration

44-53 days

Independent age

3-4 months
joey

baby name

8 joeyes

baby carrying

Population

Population Trend

Population status

ne
dd
lc
nt
vu
en
cr
ew
ex

Population threats

Dibblers have lost about 90% of their original range. The reason of sharp decline in their habitat and overall population is unknown for today. One of the biggest threats to these animals is thought to be land clearing and resulting fragmentation of their habitat. Dibblers are predated by foxes, cats and other introduced mammals. And finally, they suffer from burning of heathland and litter, reducing the amount of prey items.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of Dibblers is about 500-1,000 mature individuals, including the three island populations – around 200 individuals. In addition, there’s a reintroduced of this species on Escape Island, estimated to around 30 adult individuals. Overall, Dibblers’ numbers are decreasing today, and the animals are classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Ecological niche

On the mainland southern dibblers affect insect populations in their range. They also serve as prey larger mammals.

Fun facts for kids

  1. Beginning with the early 1990s, this species was believed to have gone extinct, until a pair of dibblers was accidently found in 1967 on Cheyne Beach on the south coast of Western Australia.
  2. The scientific name of this marsupial is ‘Parantechinus apicalis’, meaning a ‘pointed antechinus-like animal’. Dibbler is called 'pointed' for either its characteristically pointed nose or the tapering pointy tail.
  3. The feet of this animal are wide and its toes are equipped with claws. Dibbler exhibits grooves, which stretch along its feet pads, serving as suckers.
  4. Dibbler is a marsupial animal. The word marsupial derives from 'marsupium', which means 'pouch', referring to the bags, where marsupial species carry and suckle their offspring.
  5. Marsupial animals are widely distributed around the globe. Thus, they are represented by 120 species in Australia, 53 species in New Guinea, 90 species in South and Central America and 2 species in North America.
  6. Dibbler perceives its environment primarily through the senses of smell and hearing. Most marsupials possess scent glands, which convey a lot of information on an individual. Through their scent glands, these animals can inform conspecifics on their gender, mood (e.g. anger, fear) as well as belonging to a certain group.