Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the Carpentarian Antechinus Pseudantechinus mimulus, Butler's Dunnart Sminthopsis butleri and Northern Hopping-mouse Notomys aquilo, 2004 - 2009 (Woinarski, J.C.Z., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened mammals. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.5 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011j) [Admin Guideline].
 
Information Sheets Information Sheet: Northern hopping-mouse, Notomys aquilo Threatened Species Day Fact Sheet (Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW), 2007i) [Information Sheet].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NT:Survey protocol for the northern hopping-mouse Notomys aquilo (Ward, S., 2009) [Information Sheet].
NT:Threatened Species of the Northern Territory-Northern Hopping-mouse Notomys aquilo (Woinarski, J. & S. Ward, 2012a) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
NT: Listed as Vulnerable (Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000 (Northern Territory): 2012 list)
QLD: Listed as Vulnerable (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Notomys aquilo [123]
Family Muridae:Rodentia:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Thomas,1921
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific Name: Notomys aquilo

Common Name: Northern Hopping-mouse


This species is conventionally accepted (Woinarski & Flannery 2008). The original description of N. aquilo was from a single damaged specimen from an unknown location in Cape York (Thomas 1921). Groote Eylandt specimens were described as N. carpentarius, but were compared to N. alexis rather than to N. aquilo (Johnson 1959, 1964). Troughton (1967) considered the Arnhem Land and Cape York species to be distinct but Mahoney (in Ride 1970 and in Bannister et al. 1988) placed N. carpentarius in synonymy with N. aquilo without stating reasons.

The Northern Hopping-mouse is a nocturnal, rat-size hopping-mouse with sandy brown fur. It can grow to 11.2 cm long and has a relatively long tail, tufted at the end, which grows to 17.3 cm long. The Northern Hopping-mouse has a small throat pouch, large eyes and ears, and very long, narrow hind feet. This species weighs 35–50 g (Woinarski 2004; Woinarski & Flannery 2008).

The Northern Hopping-mouse is restricted to the monsoonal tropics of northern Australia. It is found on Groote Eylandt, and in the central and north-east Arnhem Land mainland (Woinarski & Flannery 2008). The Northern Hopping-mouse was first collected before 1867 from Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, but has not since been seen at this location (Woinarski & Flannery 2008).

A captive colony of Northern Hopping-mice was held for four years in the 1940s (Woinarski & Flannery 2008).

This species' distribution can be considered to be highly fragmented as the popluation consists of isolated and disjunct subpopulations (Woinarski 2004).

Rangers from Dhimurru Aboriginal Land Management Corporation have conducted searches for Northern Hopping-mice at Nanydjaka (Cape Arnhem) Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) (Woinarski 2004). Surveys of western Groote Eylandt (Firth 2008) and more widely across Groote Eylandt (Smith 2009) were undertaken as part of a proposal to drill in exploration leases (GEMCO 2010). Firth (2008) located 9 spoil heaps and one pop hole in his survey area (transects totalling 12.8 km), while Smith (2009) surveyed 709 transects (nearly 142 km) and recorded 362 spoil heaps. Of these, 165 spoil heaps were found in woodland from a total of 691 transects (a mean of 0.2 spoil heaps per transect) and 197 spoil heaps were found in sand dune habitat from a total of 20 transects (a mean of 10 spoil heaps per transect) (Smith 2009).

Although this species was considered locally abundant in the Action Plan for Australian Rodents (Lee 1995), no population estimates are available. Until the presence of the species can be confirmed by specimens and/or a method of estimating population densities can be devised, the conclusion that it is 'secure' (Woinarski et al. 1999) should be considered tentative.

The largest known Northern Hopping-mouse populations are on Groote Eylandt and the mainland of north-eastern Arnhem Land (Woinarski 2004). Following surveys in Groote Eylandt in 2009, and based on earlier survey work, Smith (2009) suggests that densities of Northern Hopping-mice on Groote Eylandt can be approximately estimated to be between 5.5 and 9.3 per hectare in woodlands and 250 and 542 per hectare in sand dune systems. Smith (2009) makes this estimate with caution, highlighting uncertainty over how many burrows may be present (as distinct from spoil heaps), how many individuals may occupy any one burrow and how many burrows on Groote Eylandt were inhabited. Nonetheless, apparent high densities of this species have historically been recorded on Groote Eylandt, with one reseacher noting that "its tracks were in incredible numbers" (referring to tracks on sand dunes) (Smith 2009).

The Northern Hopping-mouse is a highly communal species, and several individuals will occupy a single burrow system (Woinarski 2004). The burrows are complex, and are used for denning and nesting. A spoil mound, 30–40 cm in diameter, with no signs of a burrow, is located up to 2 m from the burrow entrance. The entrance is a vertical shaft up to 5 cm in diameter, which is dug from below. The displaced sand from this shaft is used to back-fill the initial part of the burrow leading from the spoil heap (Woinarski & Flannery 2008).

All extant populations should be considered important pending further information, although those on Groote Eylandt and Cape Arnhem Peninsula are probably of greatest importance (G. McKay 2001, pers. comm.).

One population of the Northern Hopping-mouse occurs in Nanydjaka IPA and Dhimurru IPA (DEW 2007i; Woinarski 2004).

The Northern Hopping-mouse is most often found in areas with sandy substrates. It seems to favour coastal sand dunes and sand sheets with a cover of tussock grass or heath. It is also found in shrubland, eucalypt open forest, and the margins of coastal rainforest thickets (Woinarski 2004; Woinarski & Flannery 2008).

Following surveys in Groote Eylandt in 2009, and building on previous surveys by Firth (2008), Smith (2009) concludes that in suitable habitat (broadly defined as most vegetation types on sandy soils) the Northern Hopping-mouse appears to be widely distributed across Groote Eylandt and much more abundant in coastal dune systems than in eucalypt woodland and other habitats. They were recorded in Eucalyptus tetrodonta woodland, rocky woodland with E. tetrodonta and Corymbia spp., E. tetrodonta and Callitris intratropica woodland, burnt and unburnt areas, MelaleucaGrevillea pteridifolia woodland and Corymbia polycarpaMelaleuca spp. woodland (Smith 2009). Firth observed in the 2008 survey in western Groote Eylandt that proximity to rocky hills was also significant (Firth 2008). Sites where Northern Hopping-mouse signs were recorded were significantly closer to rock (Firth 2008). The distribution of the Northern Hopping-mouse is restricted to areas of relatively high rainfall (about 1000–1400 mm per year) (Woinarski et al. 1999).

Information on Northern Hopping-mouse reproduction comes from observations made on a captive colony. These mice had a gestation time of approximately seven weeks, with one to five young being reared at one time. The young are born virtually hairless, and the eyes open 21–22 days after birth (Woinarski & Flannery 2008).

The Northern Hopping-mouse feeds mainly on a range of seeds from grasses, herbs and shrubs. It is also known to eat insects (DEW 2007i; Woinarski 2004; Woinarski & Flannery 2008).

The Northern Hopping-mouse is extremely difficult to trap (Woinarski & Flannery 2008). Using a spotlight technique at night to survey for the species along tracks has been found to be more effective than trapping (DEW 2007i). The species' presence can also be detected by looking for tracks pressed into the sand by the animal's hind feet as it hops. The distance between footprints is usually 20–60 cm (Woinarski & Flannery 2008). Smith (2009) notes that while detection of tracks may be appropriate in sand dune areas, in woodland areas, with harder substrate and the presence of litter which obscures tracks and pop holes, searching for spoil heaps is more effective.

Identification of surface signs of burrows is becoming central to monitoring programs for the northern hopping-mouse (Ward 2013). Smith (2009) and Firth (2008) used detection of spoil heaps, the remants of excavated burrows, for their survey work on Groote Eylandt. Smith (2009) records that the mean spoil heap length was 65.57 cm, mean width was 47.92 cm and mean height was 7.55 cm. The detectability of spoil heaps has been demonstrated to decline over time (Smith 2009), with the spoil heap becoming flattened and less obvious, leaf litter obscuring the heap and the distinctive colour of the discarded soil fading (Smith 2009).

A burrow system was excavated in a sandy woodland area of Groote Eylandt to confirm it was used by the Northern Hopping-mouse, describe its structure, and relate structure to surface signs (Ward 2013). The burrow was T-shaped, ~2 m long and wide, and connected to four vertical shafts leading to pop-hole-entrances/exits. The depth of the burrow was constrained by a rocky layer ~0.5 m below the surface. It was occupied by five hopping-mice, three of which were caught (Ward 2013). The burrow systems dug by the Northern Hopping-mouse are more complex and extensive than those of the Delicate Mouse (Pseudomys delicatulus) and the major surface signs (spoil heaps or mounds) left by the Northern Hopping-mouse are unmarked by entrances or tracks, whereas those of the Delicate Mouse are marked by an entrance and trackways (if occupied) (Ward 2013).

The communal living of the Northern Hopping-mouse may make the species more vulnerable to predation by feral cats, which may wait at burrow entrances and consume entire colonies over several nights (Woinarski 2004). As this species forages for food at night on the ground it is also vulnerable to cats at this time (DEW 2007i).

This species may be under some threat from feral stock such as cattle, buffalo and pigs. These species are known to occur across much of the species' known range, generally at low densities. Grazing may change the composition of the vegetation in habitat supporting the Northern Hopping-mouse, which could lead to reduced food resources for the species (Woinarski 2004). Changes to vegetation could also occur through altered fire regimes within the species' range (Woinarski 2004).

Broad-scale strip-mining occurs in Northern Hopping-mouse habitat, on Groote Eylandt (for manganese) and on the mainland of north-eastern Arnhem Land (for bauxite). Some populations of Northern Hopping-mice are probably affected by this activity, but the mining activity in both regions is concentrated mainly away from the sandy substrates preferred by the species. On the mainland of north-eastern Arnhem Land, a population of Northern Hopping-mouse is protected from mining within the Nanydjaka IPA (Woinarski 2004).

Changes in fire regimes in the Northern Territory may also be a threat to the Northern Hopping-mouse through the alteration of habitat diversity favoured by the species (TSN 2007).

A community education program is being undertaken, led by Indigenous rangers from the Anindilyakwa Land Council. This program provides information on the Northern Hopping-mouse on Groote Eyelandt to schools, Community Development Employment Project workers, visitors to the Island and other community members (DEW 2007i).

The following recovery actions are recommended in Woinarski (2004):

Enhance communication about the status of the species, and establish a Recovery Team of interested stakeholders
The recoverey team may be specific to the Northern Hopping-mouse, or may also consider the other two species (the Carpentarian Antechinus, Pseudantechinus mimulus, and Butler's Dunnart, Sminthopsis butleri) listed in the recovery plan with the Northern Hopping-mouse, or may be a general team for threatened native mammals across northern Australia. The team would co-ordinate recovery actions and communicate information about the species among stakeholders.

Undertake studies necessary to refine management advice
Given the difficulties in surveying for the Northern Hopping-mouse, development of effective survey techniques is a priority. Studies should also be conducted to gain a better understanding of the species' distribution (particularly in Cape York, as it is unknown whether or not the species is extant here) and to expand knowledge of the diet, habitat requirements, resource availability, breeding biology and responses to putative threatening processes of the Northern Hopping-mouse.

Manage populations (or threats to those populations) such that the conservation status becomes secure (not threatened)
A suitable fire management strategy should be developed to maintain and enhance the species' habitat quality. Threats posed by feral cats and land use (such as mining activities) should also be minimised.

The management actions, and the species' response to them, should be monitored and the actions adapted as necessary.

A colony of Northern Hopping-mice was studied in captivity by Donald Thomson in the 1940s (Woinarski & Flannery 2008).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the Carpentarian Antechinus Pseudantechinus mimulus, Butler's Dunnart Sminthopsis butleri and Northern Hopping-mouse Notomys aquilo, 2004 - 2009 (Woinarski, J.C.Z., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the Carpentarian Antechinus Pseudantechinus mimulus, Butler's Dunnart Sminthopsis butleri and Northern Hopping-mouse Notomys aquilo, 2004 - 2009 (Woinarski, J.C.Z., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the Carpentarian Antechinus Pseudantechinus mimulus, Butler's Dunnart Sminthopsis butleri and Northern Hopping-mouse Notomys aquilo, 2004 - 2009 (Woinarski, J.C.Z., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Notomys aquilo in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006pr) [Internet].

Bannister, J.L., J.H. Calaby, L.J. Dawson, J.K. Ling, J.A. Mahoney, G.M. McKay, B.J. Richardson, W.D.L. Ride & D.W. Walton (1988). Zoological Catalogue of Australia: Mammalia. Canberra: Australian Government Printing Service.

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) (2011j). Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened mammals. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.5. [Online]. EPBC Act policy statement: Canberra, ACT: DSEWPAC. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/threatened-mammals.html.

Department of the Environment and Water Resources (DEW) (2007i). Information Sheet: Northern hopping-mouse, Notomys aquilo Threatened Species Day Fact Sheet. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tsd07-n-hopping-mouse.html.

Firth, R (2008). Surveys for the Threatened Northern Hopping-mouse, Northern Quoll and Brush-tailed Rabbit Rat on GEMCO Eastern Exploration Leases (Groote Eylandt). A report prepared for Coffey Natural Systems and GEMCO (submitted with Referral EPBC 2010/5455). EWL Sciences Pty Ltd.

Groote Eylandt Mining Company (GEMCO) (2010). EPBC 2010/5455. [Online]. Groote Eylandt Mining Company (GEMCO). Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/epbc/epbc_ap.pl?name=public_notifications&limit=999999&text_search=2010%2F5455.

Johnson, D.H. (1959). Four new mammals from the Northern Territory of Australia. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 72:183-188.

Johnson, D.H. (1964). Mammals of the Arnhem Land expedition. Specht, R.L., ed. Records of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land. 4:427-515. Melbourne UP: Melbourne.

Lee, A.K. (1995). The Action Plan for Australian Rodents. Canberra: Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Endangered Species Program.

McKay, G.M. (2001). Personal Communication.

Ride, W.D.L. (1970). Native Mammals of Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Smith, J (2009). Surveys for Northern Hopping-mouse, Northern Quoll and Brush-tailed Rabbit Rat across Groote Eylandt. A report prepared for GEMCO (submitted as part of EPBC Referral 2010/5455). EWL Sciences Pty Ltd.

Thomas, O. (1921). Notes on the species of Notomys, the Australian jerboa-rats. Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Series 9). 8:536-541.

Threatened Species Network (TSC) (2007). Australian Threatened Species 2007- Northern Hopping-mouse Notomys aquilo. [Online]. wwf.org.au/publications/ntsd07-nt-orthern-hopping-mouse.pdf.

Troughton, E. le G. (1967). Furred Animals of Australia. 9th Edition. Sydney, NSW: Angus & Robertson.

Ward, S.J. (2013). Structure of a burrow of the northern hopping-mouse, Notomys aquilo, and its surface signs on Groote Eylandt. Australian Mammalogy. 36(1):55-59.

Woinarski, J.C.Z. (2004). National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the Carpentarian Antechinus Pseudantechinus mimulus, Butler's Dunnart Sminthopsis butleri and Northern Hopping-mouse Notomys aquilo, 2004 - 2009. [Online]. Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment, Darwin. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/p-mimulus-s-butleri-n-aquilo/index.html.

Woinarski, J.C.Z. & T.F. Flannery (2008). Northern Hopping-mouse. In: Van Dyck, S. & R. Strahan, eds. The Mammals of Australia, Third Edition. Sydney: Reed New Holland.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Gambold, N., Wurst, D., Flannery, T.F., Smith, A.P., Chatto, R. & Fisher, A. (1999). Distribution and habitat of the northern hopping-mouse, Notomys aquilo. Wildlife Research. 26:495-511.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Notomys aquilo in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Thu, 28 Aug 2014 09:52:06 +1000.