#ThreatenedSpecies of the Week: the Dibbler

Parantechinus apicalis or dibbler is listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The dibbler is a carnivorous marsupial with a diet dominated by insects, particularly beetles, cockroaches, grasshoppers, ants and termites, as well as spiders and plant material including saltbush berries.

Dibblers are brownish-grey above, freckled with white, and greyish-white tinged with yellow below. Dibblers are readily distinguished by the white rings around their eyes, a tapering, hairy tail and the freckled appearance of its fur.

Parantechinus apicalis or dibbler is listed as Endangered.Picture: Perth Zoo
Parantechinus apicalis or dibbler is listed as Endangered. Picture: Perth Zoo

The male dibbler can grow to 14 cm long (between head and body) and its tail can grow to 11.5 cm long. Males weigh up to 100 g while the slightly smaller female weighs up to 75g.

Dibblers in Australia

The dibbler was formerly widely distributed throughout south-western Australia, with records from Zuytdorp Cliffs and Dirk Hartog Island in Shark Bay, south to Yanchep, and from Albany east to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.

Unfortunately, the dibbler is currently restricted to the Western Australian coastline near Jurien on three small offshore islands (Boullanger, Whitlock and Escape Islands), and a small number of widely scattered mainland sites in the south west.

The main threats and cause of rarity for the dibbler include feral predators (foxes and feral cats), fire, dieback, house mice and human disturbance. The dibbler’s recovery depends upon ensuring the persistence of known populations, searching thoroughly for further existing populations and establishing additional populations through translocation of wild and/or captive-bred individuals.

Regular monitoring of all existing and reintroduced populations is an integral part of this strategy, as is an adaptive management approach that requires ongoing investigation into the operation of threatening processes affecting the species.

Community participation is strongly incorporated into recovery activities, including monitoring existing and reintroduced populations, habitat protection, promoting public awareness of the dibbler and its threatened status and canvassing communities for dibbler sighting reports.

More information about the dibbler’s recovery plan can be found here 

This information has been sourced from the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

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