Antechinomys lanigerkultarr

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Geographic Range

Kultarrs, Antechinomys laniger, are endemic to Australia. They are found in Northern Australia, Western Australia, and New South Wales. Localized extinctions of this species have been detected in New South Wales and South Australia. There are two regional subspecies of kultarrs. Antechinomys laniger laniger is located in the eastern part of the overall species range, and A. l. spenceri in the central and western parts of this range. ("Kultarr", 1999; Morris, et al., 2011)

Habitat

Kultarrs inhabit arid to semi-arid plains. They prefer heavy soils including stoney, sandy, or clay filled soils. During the day, they seek cover in stumps, spinifex tussocks, cracks in the soil, and burrows of other animals. Antechinomys laniger laniger prefers claypans in Acacia woodlands, while A. l. spenceri prefers plains of granite and shrub lands. ("Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes", 1996; "Kultarr", 1999; Strahan, 1995)

Physical Description

Kultarrs are small and mouse-like in appearance. The pelt is grey to sandy brown, and the long tail has brush-like dark hairs on the sides. The dark coloring around the eyes, mid-line, and top of the head varies among individuals. They are primarily nocturnal and, as such, have large round eyes and enlarged ears. They have elongated hind feet with four independent digits.

Kultarrs weigh 20 to 30 g and measure 170 to 200 mm in length. They exhibit sexual dimorphism with males being about 15 mm longer and 10 g heavier than females. ("Kultarr", 1999; Geiser, et al., 1990)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    20 to 30 g
    0.70 to 1.06 oz
  • Range length
    170 to 200 mm
    6.69 to 7.87 in

Reproduction

Little is known about mating systems of Kultarrs. It is suspected that olfactory cues are used in mate selection. (Stannard and Old, 2010; Woolley, 1984)

Kultarrs are a polyoestrous mammals, and females may enter oestrus up to 6 times during the breeding season. Oestrus cycles occur from July to January and may be photo-dependent. The long breeding season runs from midwinter to midsummer. Breeding females have a supple pouch, elongated nipples, and long red-brown hairs. Males begin spermatorrheoea in May. Kultarrs have 1 to 8 offspring (average 6). Gestation lasts 12 to 17 days. After birth, the young crawl into the pouch, where they remain for 30 to 48 days. Weening occurs at 80 to 90 days of age in captivity. After the breeding season, the female's pouch regresses into a small fold. Kultarrs reach sexual maturity at 11.5 months of age. (Stannard and Old, 2010; Woolley, 1984)

  • Breeding interval
    Kultarrs may breed more than once each breeding season.
  • Breeding season
    Kultarrs breed from midwinter to midsummer.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 8
  • Average number of offspring
    6
  • Range gestation period
    12 to 17 days
  • Range weaning age
    80 to 90 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    11.5 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    11.5 months

Female kultarrs feed and protect the offspring in their pouch for 30 to 48 days. After they are weaned, young remain in the nest as the mother forages. When older, they ride on their mother's back as she searches for food. (Stannard and Old, 2010; Strahan, 1995; Woolley, 1984)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Kultarrs are relatively long lived mammals for their size. Lifespan may be impacted by their ability to enter spontaneous torpor. The oldest known Kultarr lived 67 months in the wild, while the oldest in captivity lived 48 months. (Geiser, 1986; Stannard and Old, 2010)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    67 (high) months
  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    48 (high) months

Behavior

Kultarrs move with a bounding gait, alternating using their lengthened hind feet and their smaller front paws. The maximum recorded speed of this species is 13.8 km/hr. Their motion provides high maneuverability, which may aid in catching quick or dangerous prey and avoiding predators.

Kultarrs are rarely observed by humans because they are solitary and nocturnal. Entering spontaneous torpor as well as times of peak activity are temperature dependent. At colder temperatures, kultarrs are more active and enter torpor earlier in the night. This may be linked to energy expenditure for homeostasis and food availability. (Geiser, 1986; Geiser, et al., 1990; Strahan, 1995)

Home Range

Little is known regarding the home range of kultarrs.

Communication and Perception

Kultarrs utilize olfactory cues during mate selection. Parents and offspring also communicate vocally. Young use calls to locate their parents when they become separated. Kultarrs have abnormally large eyes and ears that are adapted to their nocturnal and fossorial lifestyle. (Stannard and Old, 2010; Strahan, 1995)

Food Habits

Kultarrs are insectivorous and feed mostly on spiders, cockroaches, and crickets. Their agility and speed allow them to catch quick and poisonous prey. (Stannard and Old, 2010)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Predation

Primary predators of kultarrs include feral cats and red foxes. Their nocturnal lifestyle and agility help them to avoid many predators. During the day, kultarrs stay in the nest to avoid diurnal predators. Juveniles stay safe in the pouch or nest. When juveniles do leave the nest, they attach to their mother's back. (Morris, et al., 2011; Strahan, 1995)

Ecosystem Roles

Kultarrs may affect populations of the insects they prey upon.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no known direct benefits of kultarrs on humans. They may affect populations of pest insects they prey upon.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of kultarrs on humans.

Conservation Status

Antechinomys laniger is considered a species of Least Concern by the IUCN. It is widespread, and populations are believed to fluctuate with rain levels. The US Fish & Wildlife service, however, listed this species as endangered in 1970. Over-grazing by cattle and sheep as well as predation by feral cats and red foxes are major threats, and localized extinctions have occurred. Changes in fire regime also negatively affect kultarrs. Protection of land and animal control programs have helped conserve this species. However, additional research on food habits, home range, and movement are necessary for more specific management programs. ("Kultarr", 1999; Morris, et al., 2011)

Other Comments

Antechinomys laniger has many common names, including kultarr, Jerboa-marsupial, Jerboa marsupial mouse, wuhl-wuhl, and pitchi-pitchi. (Strahan, 1995)

Contributors

Everett Beck (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Gail McCormick (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Department of Substainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. Canberra, Australia: Department of Substainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. 1996. Accessed March 01, 2012 at http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/marsupials/30.html.

Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW). Kultarr - profile. Hurtsville, New South Wales: Department of Environment and Conservvation (NSW). 2001. Accessed February 23, 2012 at http://threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/profile.aspx?id=10057.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife. Kultarr. Hurtsville, New South Wales: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. 1999. Accessed February 20, 2012 at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/nature/tsprofileKultarr.pdf.

Geiser, F. 1986. Thermoregulation and Torpor in the Kultarr Antechinomys laniger Marsupiala Dasyuridae. Journal of Comparitive Physiology B Biochemical Systematic Physiology, 156(5): 751-757.

Geiser, F. 2003. Thermal Biology and Energetics of Carnivorous Marsupials. Pp. 247 in M Jones, C Dickman, M Archer, eds. Predators with Pouches. Australia: CSIRO Publishing.

Geiser, F., R. Baudinette, T. Garland Jr.. 1990. The Relationship Between Body Mass and Rate of Rewarming from Hibernation and Daily Torpor in Mammals. Journal of Experimental Biology, 151: 349-359. Accessed February 23, 2012 at http://jeb.biologists.org/content/151/1/349.full.pdf+html.

Morris, K., J. Woinarski, M. Ellis, T. Robinson, P. Copley. 2011. "Antechinomys laniger" (On-line). In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. Accessed February 17, 2012 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/1581/0.

Stannard, H., J. Old. 2010. Observation of Reproductive Strategies of Captive Kultarrs (Antechinomys laniger). Australian Mammalogy, 32: 179-182.

Strahan, R. 1995. Mammals of Australia. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Woolley, P. 1984. Reproduction in Antechinomys laniger ("spenceri" form) (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae): Field and laboratory investigations.. Australian Wildlife Research, 11(3): 481-489. Accessed February 21, 2012 at http://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?requester=gs&collection=ENV&recid=962454&q=Antechinomys+laniger&uid=&setcookie=yes.