A mouse that’s been described as being a “dumpling on legs” was presumed extinct for over a decade until recently being rediscovered on Tasmania’s Flinders Island. The last evidence found of the New Holland Mouse’s existence (its scientific name is Pseudomys novaehollandiae) was discovered more than 12 years ago at the Waterhouse Conservation Area and has been presumed extinct for 17 years. In fact, the last time it was trapped was back in 2004 close to Wukalina/Mount William.
Billie Lazenby, who is a wildlife biologist with the threatened species and conservation branch of the Department of Primary Industry Parks Water and Environment (DPIPWE), explained some of the techniques they use in rediscovering species, “One is that we deploy what we call little hair tubes, so they’re little pieces of PVC pipe that have some nice yummy, smelly bait in the end, and they have a bit of double-sided tape.” “So when the small mammals walk in there they leave some hair samples behind, and we can send those hair samples off to a lab, and they can be analyzed and they can identify which species they belong to.”
She went on to say that it was remote cameras that allowed them to spot the presumably extinct species when it walked in front of them in order to smell a stick that had peanut butter on it. It then sat on top of a bait canister that contained sunflower seeds, peanut butter, rolled oats, and lucerne chaff.
Since the discovery, hair tubes and more remote cameras have been placed in the area in which the footage of the mouse was taken in order to observe their population.
Lazenby described the New Holland Mouse, “Our average house mouse is smelly and tends to invade our houses and raid our food cupboards and even is quite an issue living in the agricultural landscape.” “The New Holland mouse is nothing like that; it has very specific habitat requirements, it tends to be found in pristine areas far removed from human habitation.” “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.”
Roger Jaensch, who is the Tasmanian Minister for the Environment, said that additional surveys will help them in their national recovery plan for the mouse. “Last year, the Tasmanian Government received Commonwealth funding to undertake a conservation assessment of the New Holland Mouse,” he stated, adding, “The study on Flinders Island is part of a broader survey across northeastern Tasmania for the New Holland Mouse, which so far has covered eight regions and included setting up more than 259 cameras at different locations.”
Pictures of the New Holland Mouse can be seen here.