23 May 2024


I must admit I'd never heard of an Antechinus . Whilst birding at the dam someone asked me if I'd seen the Antichinus. Assuming he meant a bird species that I'd not yet heard of I said no! It was only when I researched it later I discovered that Antechinus are a small carniverous marsupial rodent with a fascinating reproductive strategy

They exhibit semelparity or suicidal reproduction. This is more commonly found in plants and insects (think female preying mantis killing and eating the males or somme species of spider doing the same. The males die after reproducing during a one to three week orgy during which they mate with as many females as they can. This is because the stress hormone cortisol builds up during the mating season. High testosterone levels causes a failure in the physiological system that mops up excess cortisol. The gruesome result is systematic organ failure due to cortisol poisoning. Fascinating! 

Anyway, next time I visited I made sure to keep an eye out for this  cross between a shrew and a mouse. Sure enough one appeared from beneath the roots of a large tree and came down to drink on several occasions. 

From the photos I'm pretty certain this is a Yellow-footed Antechinus (also known as a Mardo). If its a male he's only got a few months to live! 

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