Australia’s New Holland Mouse Reappears for the First Time in 17 Years


If Jurassic Park taught us anything it’s that life finds a way (also: don’t resurrect dinosaurs). Proving just how much that statement is true is the return of the New Holland Mouse in Tasmania.

The tiny mouse was once thought to be extinct until researchers spotted it in the wild for the first time in 17 years on Flinders Island in Tasmania.

The New Holland Mouse (pseudomys novaehollandiae) is a small, nocturnal native rodent typically found in coastal locations on the north and north-east of Tasmania, according to the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE).

Researchers were able to snap images of the little fella via a remote camera as it stopped to sniff a stick dipped in peanut butter. It then sat atop a bait canister that held rolled oats, sunflower seeds, peanut butter and Lucerne chaff.

New Holland Mouse photographed on Flinder Island

Wildlife biologist Dr Billie Lazenby told the ABC that the New Holland Mouse was nothing like the typical house mouse.

“It has very specific habitat requirements, it tends to be found in pristine areas far removed from human habitation,” Dr Lazenby said.

“If there was a cuteness factor for mice, the New Holland mouse would get 10 out of 10 stars. It’s like a little dumpling on legs, it doesn’t have much of a neck, it’s really fluffy, it has great big eyes and a long tail.”

Efforts to spot the New Holland Mouse have been ongoing for years, and use a combination of remote cameras, hair tubes (which contain food and double-sided tape to capture hair samples) and scat collection from local predators like feral cats.

The image that was captured of the mouse in late September is part of a larger survey covering the north-east coast of Tasmania.

“The cameras have collected over 40 000 images. We have also set 400 hair tubes, and collected 34 predator scats, before a New Holland Mouse walked in front of a remote camera set on reserved land on Flinders Island,” Dr Lazenby explained. “The last confirmed identification of a New Holland Mouse on Flinders Island was in 2001.”

A number of threats including fire events, changes in rainfall patterns, degradation of heathlands and introduced predators are believed to have impacted New Holland Mouse numbers.

This sighting will help inform a national recovery plan for the species.

The New Holland Mouse sighting follows the return of Australia’s Eastern Barred Bandicoot, which was recently brought back from the brink of extinction. Awesome news for our four-legged friends.


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