Dusky hopping-mice are distributed from Ooldea in S Australia to past Lake Eyre to SW Queensland. They also currently inhabit the regions of SE Western Australia, S Northern Territory, Southern Australia, N New South Wales, and NE South Australia (southern Strzeleki Desert and the Cobblers Desert). Since 1985, N. fuscus specimens have been collected from Carraweena, Montecollina Bore and Quinyambie Station, and from Pelican Waterhole. (Grizmick 1990, Honaki 1982, Nowak 1991, Rodent Action Plan http://www.anca.gov.au/plants/threaten/sched123.htm)
Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )
N. fuscus is characterized by its strong incisor teeth, long tail, large ears, dark eyes, and extremely lengthened and narrow hind feet, which have only four sole pads. Head and body length is 91-177 mm, tail length is 125-225 mm, and weight is about 20-50 grams. Coloration of the upper parts varies from pale sandy brown to yellowish brown to ashy brown or grayish. The underparts of dusky hopping-mice are white. The body covering is fine, close and soft; and long hairs near the tip of the tail give the effect of a brush. Notomys fuscus has a well-developed sebaceous glandular area on the underside of its neck or chest. Females have four mammae. (Grizmick 1990, Honaki 1982, Nowak 1991)
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Habitat and Ecology
Dusky hopping-mice inhabit sand dunes, grasslands, tree and shrub heaths, and lightly wooded areas. The temperature of their habitat is usually very high with desert-like conditions. N. fuscus also live in sand ridge habitats, which alternate with gibber flats and clay pans, in the Pelican Waterhole area. (Grizmick 1990, Honaki 1982, Nowak 1991, Rodent Action Plan
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland
Notomys fuscus is like other hopping-mice in that it does not drink, but obtains all its water and food requirements from a diet of seeds, berries, leaves, green plants and occasionally insects. (Grizmick 1990, Honaki 1982, Nowak 1991)
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Little is known of the breeding biology of this species in the wild other than that it is an opportunistic breeder. In captivity, its breeding pattern is polyestrous, with no evidence of seasonality, thus it breeds throughout the year. The gestation period is 38-41 days; a postpartum estrus is not common in N. fuscus, but some females enter estrus 14-22 days after giving birth. The estrous cycle lasts about 7-8 days. Dusky hopping-mice rear litters of 1-5 young. Their young weigh about 2-4 grams at birth and open their eyes at 18-28 days. The young cling to the nipples of the mother and are dragged about wherever she goes, and weaning occurs at about 30 days. Both sexes of N. fuscus reach reproductive maturity at 70 days. It was seen that one female N. fuscus produced 9 litters in her lifetime of 26 months. Males are capable of breeding up to the age of 38 months. (Grizmick 1990, Honaki 1982, Nowak 1991)
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Vulnerable (VU)
- 1994Vulnerable (V)
- 1990Vulnerable (V)
- 1988Indeterminate (I)
The N. fuscus population is very small, and the species is rarely seen in its known habitats. Recent capture rates suggests the numbers of dusky hopping-mice to be 10 000. The reason for decline in `N. fuscus <<Notomys fuscus>` population size is not known. Notomys fuscus is noted in the lists of ANZECC, and in Appendix II of the Convention in International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). IUCN considers N. fuscus to be a vulnerable taxon with populations that have been seriously depleted and whose ultimate security is not yet assured. There have been some efforts to assist the recovery of populations of N. fuscus by organizations including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, SA, and Qld Department of Environment and Heritage and Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory. Their recovery objectives are to undertake a survey to determine the species' current distribution, population size, and habitat requirements. (Refugia for Biological Diversity in Arid and Semi-arid Australia http://kaos.erin.gov.au/life/general_info/biodivser_4/bio119.html
Rodent Action Plan http://www.anca.gov.au/plants/threaten/sched123.htm)
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Notomys fuscus is used in studies of reproduction because of its rapid breeding cycle. Some studies have included female and male N. fuscus reproductive anatomy and physiology, while other studies have focused on genetic analyses. (Baverstock 1977, Breed 1982, Breed 1985)
Dusky hopping mouse
The dusky hopping mouse (Notomys fuscus) is an Australian native rodent specialised for the deep desert. Like all hopping mice it has strong front teeth, a long tail, dark eyes, big ears, well-developed haunches and very long, narrow hind feet. It weighs between 20 and 50 g (0.71 and 1.76 oz). (Compare with the common house mouse, at 10 to 25 g (0.35 to 0.88 oz).)
The dusky hopping mouse has four pads on its soles. Colouration varies but tends to be pale orange, sometimes with grey tinges, and white underneath. Fur is short, fine, and soft. The long tail ends in a dark brush.
Breeding is opportunistic, depending on conditions rather than the time of year. Females have four teats and the young reach maturity in about 70 days.
The dusky hopping mouse is classified as vulnerable. Old records show that it once occupied a large area of Central Australia including parts of Queensland, New South Wales as far as Victoria, the Northern Territory and South Australia but it now appears to be restricted to a small number of locations in the Strzelecki Desert and nearby regions in the South Australia–Queensland border area. It is possible that some survive in the Northern Territory also, though surveys in 2000 and 2002 did not find any.
The remaining populations are concentrated in sandy habitats which have consolidated dunes and perennial vegetation and are close to lakes or drainage lines. (Bear it in mind that "lakes" in Central Australia are normally dry, often for years on end: permanent surface water is very unusual.) Dusky hopping mice are nocturnal and gregarious. During the days, they shelter in very deep burrow systems. The access shafts are about 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter and go straight down for about 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in).
The reasons for the decline of the dusky hopping mouse are not fully understood, but are assumed to be competition for food with introduced species, particularly cattle and rabbits, and predation by introduced cats and foxes. Decline due to predation by introduced predators appears to be a factor, since it has been found that this species is up to 40 times as abundant in areas where dingos are present, due to the dingo's competitive exclusion of foxes.
- Baillie (1996). Notomys fuscus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Listed as Vulnerable (VU A1ce v2.3)
- Booth, Carol. "DINGO: GREAT HUNTER, GREAT CONSERVATION HOPE?". Retrieved 11 February 2013.
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