These photos of a Brush-tailed Phascogale or Tuan were sent in by Chris Cobern of the Upper Goulburn Landcare Network Fire Recovery (http://landcarefirerecovery.blogspot.com). This little animal is just one species that has taken advantage of the hundreds of nest boxes made by Scouts, Landcare Groups, Rotary and other community organisations. Chris organised these boxes to be installed after the 2009 fires to replace the homes that animals lost. Normally a Tuan lives in tree hollows, but many of these were burnt down.
This Tuan was photographed squeezing out of a nest box in the Flowerdale area, one of 400 that Chris monitors, using motion sensing cameras and a small camera fitted to an extension pole that can fit through the nest box entrance to photograph the inhabitants. Could it be that this rather plump individual is carrying babies? The babies are born after 30 days, usually 7 to 8 in the litter. Females of the species are lucky to be able to live to the ripe old age of 3. Males have only one purpose, after which they die!
Tuans are arboreal and feed on insects and juicy big spiders, as well as small mammals and birds. They are not often seen in our area, – before the fires of 2009 I had only ever seen one in 12 years. A number of Tuans have been recorded since the fires by the Upper Goulburn Landcare Network Focus on Fauna team that have been monitoring how our native animals are recovering from this dramatic event (go to focusonfauna.wordpress.com and type ‘Tuan’ into the search box). When alarmed the Tuan makes a characteristic tapping noise with it’s feet on a branch. Keep a lookout for these at night. We may even see one on our group walk this Sunday night (2 June).