There are not many animals that shag themselves to death, but the phascogale is one of them. These unusual Australian marsupials go into a frenzy of continuous mating between May and July and after exhausting themselves, the males die. According to WIRES Northern Rivers coordinator Lib Rutyenberg, an underweight, sluggish phascogale found by a member of the public in Casino this week could have just been through this period of exertion.
"People often find the carcasses of males, but it's unusual to find a living one," Lib said. "In the wild, male phascogales only live for one year, while the females live for about three years."
"When I had a look at this phascogale, I noticed it had one eye missing, but it was an old injury. It also had lots of ticks on it. If an animal is run down and unwell, they often carry a higher burden of parasites and can succumb to them."
These small creatures with long brush-like tails can sometimes be seen jumping from branch to branch in the trees. Their name means 'pouched weasel' and they eat insects and mice with their very sharp teeth. They are one of many small animals listed as vulnerable in Australia. For Lib, being a member of WIRES means she often comes in contact with these unusual furry creatures.
"We are blessed to live in an area with the highest biodiversity in the state," Lib said. "It's fascinating to learn about the habits and environment of different animals in our local area and anyone interested in helping wildlife in their community can join WIRES and volunteer. It will also give them confidence to know what to do if they are concerned about an injured animal they have seen."
WIRES Northern Rivers will be holding a two-day Wildlife Rescue and Immediate Care Course on June 23-24 at Southern Cross University and members of the public are encouraged to come along and learn how to safely rescue and provide emergency care for injured and orphaned native wildlife. For more information, phone the WIRES hotline on 6628 1898 or visit the website www.wiresnr.org.