Shark Bay Mouse

© Blair Parsons

Quick Facts

  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pseudomys fieldi
  • FAMILY: Muridae (True rats and mice)
  • NATIONAL CONSERVATION STATUS: Vulnerable
  • STATE CONSERVATION STATUS: Vulnerable in WA: Endangered & Presumed Extinct in SA: Extinct in NT
  • SURVIVING POPULATION: Unknown but, due to the species’ restricted distribution (four islands), its global population is likely to be very low
Image Textcalloutl R 632x440 Shark Bay Mouse © Wayne Lawler © Wayne Lawler

What is AWC doing?

AWC protects an established population of Shark Bay mice on Faure Island. Breeding within this population has been recorded, with several pregnant females being observed. We deliver effective conservation for this species through the eradication of feral herbivores and predators. The Shark Bay mouse is also one of the candidate species for the Mt Gibson Mammal Restoration Project.

A Camera Trap Captures Feral Cat That Has Killed

Threats to the Shark Bay Mouse

The major threats to the Shark Bay Mouse are unknown. It is believed that several factors are responsible for the disappearance of this species from the mainland. These include: predation by feral cats and foxes; habitat changes (specifically soil compaction and vegetation trampling and grazing) by introduced hooved herbivores; and competition with introduced pests (e.g. rabbits).

Vulnerable

Description

Shark Bay mice are a rather robust species with a notably long and shaggy coat. Their fur is grizzled dark brown above and buff on the sides, and animals have pure white underparts. The species has a bicoloured tail consisting of grey above and white below. Adults have a head-body length of 80 – 115 mm and their weight ranges from 30 to 61 g, with an average of 45 g.

Ecology

Shark Bay mice are omnivorous, with a varied diet consisting of flowers (likely from the Coastal daisy bush, Olearia axillaris), leaves and stemsfrom fleshy plant species, as well as fungi, insects and spiders. On Bernier Island, this species seems to have a preference for coastal fringes that are dominated by Spinifex longifolius. Here, large heaps of seaweed collect on the shores and allow Shark Bay mice to form their runways and tunnels. However, animals are not exclusively found in this habitat and also occupy areas on dunes that are dominated by grasses (Triodia) and/or shrubs (Acacia). On Faure Island, Shark Bay mice have even been captured on salt pans (‘birridas’) that contain various species of chenopods. Breeding occurs during winter and spring and gestation is approximately 28 days. Litter size is three or four and the young are independent at 30 days.

Range and Abundance

When first described, it was thought that this species had a current and historical distribution restricted to Shark Bay. However, the discovery and examination of sub-fossil evidence indicated that it was once considerably more widespread, occurring throughout south-western Western Australia and into central Australia. The Shark Bay mouse is now declared extinct in the Northern Territory and endangered (presumed extinct) in South Australia. Its range in Western Australia has drastically reduced and the species is now restricted to four offshore islands: Faure, Bernier, Doole and North West, where it is considered to be rare with a limited abundance.

Sanctuaries Where You Can Find the Shark Bay Mouse

© Chantelle Jackson/AWC
Western Australia

Faure Island

Faure Island is part of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, tucked between the Peron Peninsula and mainland Western Australia....

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