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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Incredible Kangaroo Island Dunnart Facts For Kids

One of the most interesting Kangaroo Island dunnart facts is that they have become a critically endangered species due to human vegetation destruction by humans.

The Kangaroo Island dunnart (Sminthopsis aitkeni) is a critically endangered species of marsupials native to the South Australian Kangaroo Island. The Kangaroo Island dunnart species has only been observed for the past 50 years but it has recently come into the spotlight after its numbers greatly reduced after Australian bushfires in 2020. The dark sooty-gray-colored Kangaroo Island (KI) dunnart population reduced from a population of between 300 and 500 before the bushfires to a mere 50 after them, making it a critically endangered species today. Clearing of vegetation in Kangaroo Island has clearly played a major role in the declining population of this endangered species.

This mammal feeds on spiders, ants, scorpions, grasshoppers, and beetles and is preyed upon by feral cats. Males of this endangered species of KI dunnart are bigger and live for a shorter amount of time than females. They are a nocturnal species and females give birth to litters of up to 10 joeys.

Keep reading to learn more about this cute mammal, or learn more about some other animals, including the hedgehog or the marsupial mole here.

Kangaroo Island Dunnart Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Kangaroo Island dunnart?

The Kangaroo Island dunnart (Sminthopsis aitkeni) is a marsupial.

What class of animal does a Kangaroo Island dunnart belong to?

The Kangaroo Island dunnart (Sminthopsis aitkeni) belongs to the mammal class of animals.

How many Kangaroo Island dunnarts are there in the world?

There are only about 50 Kangaroo Island dunnarts left in the world.

Where does a Kangaroo Island dunnart live?

Kangaroo Island dunnarts are known to live in shrublands and woodlands on Kangaroo Island, Australia.

What is a Kangaroo Island dunnart's habitat?

The Kangaroo Island dunnart (Sminthopsis aitkeni) inhabits vegetation, laterite soils, and rocks in shrubland habitats, or 'heaths'. It is the only mammal endemic to the South Australian Kangaroo Island. In mallees and woods, it shelters in holes dug in the ground. They build nests at these sites but wander around a lot and are often seen out and about at night.

Who do Kangaroo Island dunnarts live with?

Kangaroo Island dunnarts may live alone but they sometimes also share their nests with other dunnarts.

How long does a Kangaroo Island dunnart live?

A Kangaroo Island dunnart can live for six to 18 months.

How do they reproduce?

A Kangaroo Island dunnart (Sminthopsis aitkeni) reproduces by mating with the opposite sex of its species. Kangaroo Island dunnarts have two breeding seasons a year. It is understood that males do not live past one breeding season, whereas females are thought to survive at least two seasons. The two breeding seasons are from mid-September to the end of October, and from November to December. The female Kangaroo Island dunnart gives birth to up to 10 young after a gestation period of a mere 12 days.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Kangaroo Island dunnart, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature is Critically Endangered.

Kangaroo Island Dunnart Fun Facts

What do Kangaroo Island dunnarts look like?

Kangaroo Island dunnarts are typically 6.7-7.8 in (170–198 mm) long, with more than half their length being made up by their tail! Their muzzle is pointed and they have big ears. Kangaroo Island dunnarts display sexual dimorphism, meaning males are bigger than females. Every Kangaroo Island dunnart has dark sooty-gray-colored fur on its back. Its tail, unlike those of other marsupials, is not fat but is thin, whitish, and pale. The fur on their feet and hands is also pale and whitish. Their belly is pale, their muzzle is pointed and slender and their eyes are dark.

The Kangaroo Island dunnart has dark eyes and big ears.
* Please note that this is an image of a fat-tailed dunnart, not a Kangaroo Island dunnart specifically. If you have an image of a Kangaroo Island dunnart please let us know at [email protected]

How do they communicate?

A Kangaroo Island dunnart, being a marsupial, has scent glands, so it may have olfactory communication capabilities.

How big is a Kangaroo Island dunnart?

The Kangaroo Island dunnart is 6.7-7.8 in (170–198 mm) long on average (including the tail, which is longer than the body). This makes it 14 times smaller than the eastern gray kangaroo.

How fast can a Kangaroo Island dunnart run?

It is possible that the Kangaroo Island dunnart may run up to a speed of 8 mph (12.9 kph) to avoid predators.

How much does a Kangaroo Island dunnart weigh?

A Kangaroo Island dunnart weighs around 0.35-0.89 oz (10–25 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Males and females of the Kangaroo Island dunnart species do not have specific names.

What would you call a baby Kangaroo Island dunnart?

A young Kangaroo Island dunnart can be called a joey.

What do they eat?

The Kangaroo Island dunnart is a carnivore that eats mainly spiders, and ants. It also eats scorpions, grasshoppers, and beetles less frequently.

Are they dangerous?

No, a Kangaroo Island dunnart is not dangerous. It is a young species that is critically endangered and is in more danger from humans than we are from them.

Would they make a good pet?

Although they are quite cute and you may think that they could make good pets, this is currently out of the question since they are an endangered species. Their habitat should be preserved and their population should be left in the wild.

Did you know...

Destruction of their natural habitat, which is full of vegetation, in Kangaroo Island, has had a prominent role in the declining population of this  animal. The wildfires of 2020 also played a major role, wherein 95% of the habitat of the Kangaroo Island dunnart population was destroyed.

The conservation status of the species is Endangered in the state of South Australia, as well in as the country of Australia.

Several conservation and natural resources organizations have undertaken efforts to prevent the extinction of these amazing Kangaroo Island dunnarts.

Why is it called Kangaroo Island dunnart?

The Kangaroo Island dunnart is named so because it is native to Kangaroo Island in the state of South Australia.

Dunnart vs. Kangaroo Island dunnart

The dunnart is a common name for the Sminthopsis species of marsupials. The Kangaroo Island dunnart is one of the many species of dunnart. More generally, dunnarts are found in New Guinea and Australia, whereas the Kangaroo Island dunnart is endemic to and found only in  Kangaroo Island in South Australia. The Kangaroo Island dunnart is Critically Endangered, but dunnarts are collectively not endangered.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the rice rat, or the marsupial.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Kangaroo Island dunnart coloring pages.

* Please note that this is an image of a dunnart, not a Kangaroo Island dunnart specifically. If you have an image of a Kangaroo Island dunnart please let us know at [email protected]

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