Broad-footed Marsupial Mice (Antechinus)

I heard about this small mouse through someone who draws comics on Instagram. Scientists are still finding new species in the genus, some being discovered as late as 2015. There are a couple of very interesting things to learn about this genus but do note that reading this may be NSFW.


Physical Description and Behavior

https://www.livescience.com/51083-photos-antechinus-new-species.html
Image via Livescience

This genus of mice has short and dense fur that is grey or brown in color, depending on the species. They have long thin tails and a cone-shaped head and large beady eyes akin to that of a shrew. They can be anywhere from 12–31 cm (5-12 inches) in length and weigh 16–170g (1-10 pounds) as adults.


Fun Fact: This genus of mice is well known for their sexual escapades. In the fall months, the males of this genus literally have sex until they die. National Geographic can explain this in a far better way than I can, so I am just going to quote them:


"A month ago, he irreversibly stopped making sperm, so he’s got all that he will ever have. This burst of speed-mating is his one chance to pass his genes on to the next generation, and he will die trying. He exhausts himself so thoroughly that his body starts to fall apart. His blood courses with testosterone and stress hormones. His fur falls off. He bleeds internally. His immune system fails to fight off incoming infections, and he becomes riddled with gangrene. He’s a complete mess, but he’s still after sex."

Males of this species are usually dead long before their first birthday. Their mating sessions of 12 hours or more wears down their bodies and eventually kills them off. Females can breed 2 or even 3 times, which assumes that they live at least 3 times longer than males on average. They can have upwards of 14 young, which they carry around in a small pouch.


While they mainly eat insects, they are seen as dietary generalists, and even opportunists, because they will eat whatever is available to them. They mainly eat ants, but if the food is available to them, they will also eat beetles, larvae, and spiders. However, in times of stress, they have been known to eat small reptiles, and even other mammals, such as gliders.


Habitat and Location


Finding a map for the entire genus was hard, and the one that I did find was incredibly tiny. So I took that data and put it on a larger map of Australia. The map template comes from Mapchart.net, while the original tiny map comes from an article on this animal from the news site ABC. The small map is included for comparison.


They are mainly found in eastern Australia, but some species can be found in the west. Some species are classified as endangered, and due to their diet and habitat are highly susceptible to the effects of climate change.


You can find more information about them by checking out the video below:



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