"Extinct" mouse rediscovered

The desert mouse (photo: Ulrike Kloecker)
Tuesday, 7 October, 2008

A small mammal classified as "presumed extinct" in NSW - the desert mouse - has been rediscovered living in Sturt National Park in the State's far west. It had not been seen since 1857.

University of NSW PhD student Ulrike Kloecker rediscovered the Desert Mouse during research in the park last month.

"It was so exciting," Ulrike said. "After all this time I have worked here, I believed I knew all the species that occurred in the area.

"I never thought I would actually have to get the mammal identification book out again," she said.

Ulrike works in Sturt National Park on her Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) supported PhD project investigating the ecology of the small mammal and reptile communities.

She found the spiky-looking plump mouse with a distinct buff-orange ring around the eyes sitting at the bottom of a pit trap.

The desert mouse is known to occur in arid zones in other parts of Australia, but Ulrike's research has put the mammal back on the map in NSW.

"The nearest known localities are about 400km further north in Queensland and around 350 km further west in South Australia, so this find extends the known distribution by several hundred kilometres," Ulrike said.

National Parks and Wildlife Service Tibooburra Area Manager Ingrid Witte said it's not the first time a mammal presumed extinct has emerged in the treasure trove that is Sturt National Park.

"In 2003, the Dusky Hopping Mouse was removed from the presumed extinct list after being rediscovered in Sturt and a species not detected for more than two decades - the "long haired rat" was found in earlier research."

"These finds show the real value of protected areas as refuges for rare and endangered species in NSW," Ms Witte said.

Media contact:

NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change: Katie Ritchie 02 9995 5347

UNSW Fowler's Gap Research Station, Broken Hill: Dr David Croft: 08 8091 3809