Tiny marsupial threatened by roaming cats

Kangaroo Island is home to a critically endangered population of mouse-sized marsupials—and a lot of feral cats. Credit: Roo72

Researchers say feral cats are pushing a critically endangered marsupial to the brink of extinction. The Kangaroo Island dunnart (Sminthopsis aitkeni) is a small, mouse-sized marsupial found only on their namesake island, off the coast of South Australia. The island also has its share of feral cats. Using cats removed as part of a control program, researchers investigated the stomach contents of 86 cats and found the remains of eight dunnarts. That’s troubling since only about 500 dunnarts exist on the island.

Researchers say the study highlights the urgent need to protect vulnerable species like the dunnart from feral cat predation, particularly following natural disasters such as bushfires.

Read the study in Scientific Reports.