Trail Cameras Capture Bizarre Mouse Believed to be Locally Extinct


Trail cameras continue to serve as excellent tools in the field of conservation as an Australian wildlife group discovered recently when they captured images of strange-looking mice thought to be locally extinct.
The Dusky Hopping Mouse is a big-eared, wide-eyed mouse with a bushy tail known to hop rather than run. They are native to Australia but are a threatened species.
The mice were thought to be extinct in the Aussie state of New South Wales until 2003. And were believed to be totally absent from the Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary, until Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) Sanctuary manager Daniel Burton spotted a hopping critter one day.
“It sprinted right in front of me, and I hopped out of the car for a closer look,” explains Burton in a press release.
“The mouse was twice the size of a house mouse with larger ears, wider eyes, and a longer, black, and bushy tail — and it wasn’t running, it was hopping.”
After spotting the Dusky Hopping Mouse, Burton set up camera traps in the discovery area and in the subsequent months he captured thousands of images of multiple individuals. From that data the team was able to determine the location of various colonies.
The AWC was even able to trap an individual and collect tissue samples for genetic testing.
“We were able to use the information gathered from the camera trap images to opportunistically set up Elliott Traps and eventually capture one individual, a male which was nicknamed Patches,” says Trevor Bauer, an AWC Field Ecologist.
“We took measurements of his head, tail, body, ears, feet, and pads. He had a prominent throat pouch with fur pointing toward the center. We had a good idea of the species, but took fur clippings and tissue samples for genetic testing to be certain.”
In May 2023, a year after the first sighting, the Dusky Hopping Mouse was confirmed as a new species for the Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Dusky Hopping Mouse’s population has plummeted since Europeans arrived in Australia. Along with the settlers came predators like cats and foxes which are thought to have contributed to the decline in the rodent’s numbers.
Image credits: All photos by Daniel Burton/AWC.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here