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 Endangered
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 Recovery Plan for Marsupial Moles Notoryctes typhlops and N. caurinus, 2005-2010 (Benshemesh, J., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for predation by feral cats (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzp) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Red Fox (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzq) [Threat Abatement 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].
 
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 Listing Status
WA: Listed as Endangered (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Data Deficient (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
NGO: Listed as Least Concern (The action plan for Australian mammals 2012)
Scientific name Notoryctes caurinus [295]
Family Notoryctidae:Polyprotodonta:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Thomas,1920
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

There is morphological and genetic information to support the delineation of Marsupial moles into two species, Kakarratul and Itjaritjari (Notoryctes typhlops), however, there does appear to be a degree of range overlap between the two (Benshemesh 2004). Kakarratul is the accepted spelling of this species common name (Benshemesh 2004; Benshemesh & Aplin 2008; Burbidge et al. 1988; Woinarski et al. 2014).

The Kakarratul is a blind marsupial which is adapted to living underground. It lacks external ears and has only small ear holes covered by hair. Its body is covered with long, silky, golden-brown fur and has a horny shield on the snout. This species grows to a maximum length of 16 cm with a tail length of 2.6 cm and weighs up to 70 g (Cronin 1991; Strahan 1998).

There are three recent records of the Northern Marsupial Mole: two on Talawanna Track west of Cotton Creek, WA, in October 1995 (WA Museum) and a third from near Nifty Mine in March 1996. This species was previously collected at Balgo in 1979. Moles have been identified as still present at about half of the sites identified within the range of this species by Burbidge et al. (1988) who noted that "everyone said it was still common in suitable areas". However much of this information probably relates to sightings from one to four decades ago. There are very few recent records, despite an enormous increase in the number of people visiting the Kakarratul's range (Maxwell et al. 1996). In 2000 another specimen was found at Punmu WA (Withers et al. 2000). This species has been collected from six localities in the Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts (WA): from Sturt Creek, Wallal Downs, Balgo Hill Mission, Warburton Range and the Canning Stock Route (Corbet 1975; Kitchener & Vicker 1981). Aboriginal people interviewed by Burbidge et al. (1988) knew moles to be present during living memory or still present at more than 40 sites within this range (Maxwell et al. 1996).

There is currently not enough information on the abundance of the Kakarratul across its range to give an accurate estimate of population. The development and proliferation of survey techniques such as trenching and geophone studies may allow for estimation of population numbers in the future (Benshemesh 2005c; Benshemesh pers. comm.)

The Kakarratul lives underground, primarily in sand dunes and sandy soils along river flats. It occasionally comes to the surface, apparently more frequently after rain (Maxwell et al. 1996).

Underground signs of marsupial moles are usually found on well-vegetated dunes (where prey may be more abundant) and generally not in swales (flats between dunes) (Benshemesh 2004). It is thought that this may be due to the sand between dunes being too compact for the animal to effectively move through (Pavey et al. 2012).

The vegetation in Kakarratul habitat is generally Acacia spp., small shrubs and Desert Oak (Allocasuarina decaisneana) and often (but not always) associated with spinifex (Triodia spp.).

Sandy river flats are also thought to be potential Kakarratul habitat, as they are rich in food resources and may act as dispersal corridors (Benshemesh 2004).

Kakarratul cannot safely travel far over hard ground, so connectivity of dune habitat is likely to be important for maintaining the species' range and successful dispersal. Underground signs are generally found between 20—100 cm below the dune surface.

Very little is known about the reproduction and population structure of the Kakarratul. Anecdotal evidence and traditional ecological knowledge indicate that Kakarratul surface fairly regularly during periods associated with breeding, and mates may court above-ground (Benshemesh 2004).

Kakarratul are thought to have similar feeding habits to the Itjaritjari (N. caurinus). The Itjaritjari are known to be dietary generalists (Pavey et al. 2012) and consume ants, beetle larvae and arthropods. The Itjaritjari was found to avoid consuming termites, however, it is not known whether the Kakarratul also displays this particular aversion.

In captivity, marsupial moles have caught and eaten larger arthropods such as centipedes and small vertebrates such as geckos (Benshemesh 2004).

The only proven method for sampling of marsupial mole species is the 'trenching method' (Benshemesh 2005c). This involves digging a trench 100 cm wide by 80—100 cm deep and approximately 50 cm wide. The north-facing trench wall is then smoothed by hand and left to dry for three days so that any mole tunnels can become evident. The cross-section of the trench is then inspected for mole tunnels (Pedler 2009). The structure of the sand in the tunnel can indicate how old it is.

Trenches should be dug in the crest and mid-slope regions of dunes, as they are most likely to contain substrate preferred by the species (Benshemesh pers comm. cited in Pedler 2009).

The survey effort required for particular types of investigations is a developing area of the method. Furture information regarding how quickly the tunnels degrade underground will also assist in developing the accuracy of this method (Benshemesh and Shulz, 2008).

There is a survey method involving the use of geophones to detect sub-surface movement, but it is still in trial stages (Benshemesh pers comm.).

No decline has been documented for this extremely cryptic species. However, the lack of records in recent years gives considerable cause for concern. It is an arid zone 'Critical Weight Range' species (Burbidge & McKenzie 1989). Around 90% of such taxa have either become extinct or have declined seriously in range and/or abundance. Current threatening processes include predation by the Fox (Vulpes vulpes) (which are capable of taking animals on or near the surface) and the Cat (Felis catus). Changed fire regimes in the spinifex-dominated sandy deserts may also be affecting the species (Maxwell et al. 1996).

Although unlikely to be as significant as those threats detailed above, linear infrastructure and other developments which create barriers to movement and dispersal may fragment populations and lead to long-term genetic issues (Benshemesh and Shulz 2008).

Arid Lands Environment Centre (WA) received $19 000 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2001-02, part of which was for a three week survey along the Canning Stock Route to gather information on the distribution, status and habitat requirements of the northern Marsupial Mole. Information was to be used for formulation of a joint national recovery plan and to provide information on other nationally threatened species.

Parngurr Community Inc (WA) received $44 460 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2006-07, part of which was for gathering of detailed information on the ecology and behaviour of the northern Marsupial Mole; localised control of feral predators; and documentation of project work by young Martu from community schools.

Ngaanyatjarra Council (WA) received $33 000 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2005-06, part of which was for monitoring of population, habitat changes and predation levels of this species, and updating of the Ngaanyatjarra threatened species database.

Central Land Council (NT) received $23 640 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2003-04, part of which was for monitoring distribution and abundance of this species in areas that are baited to control foxes and unbaited areas of the Tanamai Desert.

Parngurr Community Inc (WA) received $21 850 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2003-04, part of which was for tracking surveys over parts of the Great Sandy Desert to map populations of this species on Martu Lands, and for fire management aimed at improving country for this species.

Management documents for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot (Mainland) are at the start of the profile.

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
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox, Fox) Notoryctes caurinus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006rk) [Internet].
The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes (Maxwell, S., A.A. Burbidge & K. Morris, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Occurrence of the marsupial mole (Notoryctes typhlops) remains in the faecal pellets of cats, foxes and dingoes in the Tanami Desert, N.T. . Australian Mammalogy. 20:427-429. (Paltridge, R. , 1998) [Journal].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) Notoryctes caurinus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006rk) [Internet].
The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes (Maxwell, S., A.A. Burbidge & K. Morris, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Occurrence of the marsupial mole (Notoryctes typhlops) remains in the faecal pellets of cats, foxes and dingoes in the Tanami Desert, N.T. . Australian Mammalogy. 20:427-429. (Paltridge, R. , 1998) [Journal].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Notoryctes caurinus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006rk) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes (Maxwell, S., A.A. Burbidge & K. Morris, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Notoryctes caurinus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006rk) [Internet].

Benshemesh, J. (2005c). Manual for Marsupial Mole Survey and Monitoring by Trenches, Version 1.0. Report to Anangu-Pitjantjatjara Land Management and the Department of Heritage and Environment (SA).

Benshemesh, J. & K.P. Aplin (2008). Kakarratul. In: Van Dyck, S. & R. Strahan, eds. The Mammals of Australia. Page(s) 410-11. 3rd edition. New Holland Publishers.

Benshemesh, J. & M. Shulz (2008). Survey of the underground signs of marsupial moles in the WA Great Victoria Desert. Tropicana Joint Venture and the Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts, NT Government.

Burbidge, A.A. & N.L. McKenzie (1989). Patterns in the modern decline of Western Australia's vertebrate fauna: causes and conservation implications. Biological Conservation. 50:143-198.

Burbidge, A.A., K.A. Johnson, P.J. Fuller, & R.I. Southgate (1988). Aboriginal knowledge of the mammals of the central deserts of Australia. Australian Wildlife Research. 15:9-39.

Corbett, L.K. (1975). Geographical distribution and habitat of the Marsupial Mole, Notoryctes typhlops. Australian Mammalogy. 1:375-378.

Cronin, L. (1991). Key Guide to Australian Mammals. Balgowlah, NSW: Reed Books.

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.

Kitchener, D.J. & E. Vicker (1981). Catalogue of Modern Mammals in the Western Australian Museum 1895 to 1981. Page(s) 184. WA Museum: Perth.

Maxwell, S., A.A. Burbidge & K. Morris (1996). The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. [Online]. Wildlife Australia, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/action-plan-australian-marsupials-and-monotremes.

Pavey, C.R., C.J. Burwell & J. Benshemesh (2012). Diet and prey selection of the southern marsupial mole: an enigma from Australia's sand deserts. Journal of Zology. 211:1-9.

Pedler, R. (2009). Marsupial Mole (Notoryctes typhlops) survey, Ingomar Station, SA. South Australian Arid Lands Natural Resources Management Board. SA.

Strahan, R., ed. (1998). The Mammals of Australia, Third Edition. Sydney, NSW: Australian Museum and Reed New Holland.

Withers, P.C., G.G. Thompson & R.S. Seymour (2000). Metabolic physiology of the north-western marsupial mole, Notoryctes caurinus (Marsuspialia: Notoryctidae). Australian Journal of Zoology. 48:241-258.

Woinarski, J., A. Burbidge & P. Harrison (2014). The Action Plan for Australian Mammals 2012. CSIRO Publishing, Victoria, Australia.

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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). Notoryctes caurinus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 1 Oct 2014 06:51:19 +1000.