SPECIES: Mesembriomys gouldii rattoides — Black-footed Tree-rat (north Queensland), Shaggy Rabbit-rat
Right up in the north of Australia on Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, in the Top end of NT and over into the Kimberley region of WA, you may be lucky to stumble across one of these – one of the largest rodents native to Australia. It’s the Black-footed Tree-rat, also known as a Shaggy Rabbit-rat.
Not to be confused with a simple rat or a rabbit, the Black-footed Tree-rat is well-adapted to its surroundings, with strong, sharp claws, large ears and a log tail tipped with a brush of white hair at the tips. Sounds rather cute for a rat. Nocturnal by nature, they seek the shelter of tree hollows during the day. The Black-footed Tree-rat is a folivore, which is a type of herbivore and their specialty is eating leaves. Fancy.
Threats of fire, predation by feral cats and the availability of tree hollows to hide away in have seen the population of these mammals sadly decline, and it’s estimated that there could only be around 30,000 of them left…somewhere…in the regions they call home.
Photo: K Brennan