New Holland Mouse feared extinct detected on Flinders Island

Roger Jaensch,Minister for the Environment

The New Holland Mouse (Pseudomys novaehollandiae) – a small, nocturnal, native rodent recognised nationally as being vulnerable to extinction has been observed on Flinders Island, Tasmania.

Despite a considerable search effort, the confirmed sighting of the species is the first in 17 years, with the last evidence of any kind detected over 12 years ago.

A number of images were obtained of the species as it walked in front of a remote camera to sniff a stick dipped in peanut butter and sit atop a bait cannister containing rolled oats, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and Lucerne chaff.

Following the discovery, remote cameras and hair tubes are now in place to gauge the extent of habitat occupied by the species in the vicinity of where the photographs were taken.

The sighting and further survey work will help to inform a national recovery plan for the species.

The last known confirmed New Holland Mouse was trapped near wukalina / Mt William in 2004 and the last hard evidence of the species was obtained in 2010 in the form of hair samples, collected at Waterhouse Conservation Area.

Since then, numerous trapping and hair tubing surveys have been conducted, but have not detected the species.

A number of threats have been identified for the New Holland Mouse including changes in fire regimes, severe fire events, changes in rainfall patterns, degradation of heathlands as a result of Phytophthora cinnamomi infection, fragmentation of habitat, and predation by and competition with introduced species including feral cats and house mice.

Last year, the Tasmanian Government received Commonwealth funding to undertake a conservation assessment of the New Holland Mouse.

The study on Flinders Island is part of a broader survey across north eastern Tasmania for the New Holland Mouse which so far has covered eight regions and included setting up more than 259 cameras at different locations.

We are committed to sharing information and working collaboratively with our interstate counterparts to ensure effective management and recovery of the species across its range.

As part of the conservation assessment, DPIPWE will host a national workshop later this year to discuss potential causes for decline, compare management practices across the species’ national range and identify key knowledge gaps to guide more effective future management.

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