Notoryctes caurinus 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Notoryctemorphia Notoryctidae

Scientific Name: Notoryctes caurinus
Species Authority: Thomas, 1920
Common Name(s):
English Kakarratul, Northwestern Marsupial Mole, Northern Marsupial Mole
French Petite taupe marsupiale
Taxonomic Source(s): Wilson, D.E. and Reeder, D.M. (eds). 2005. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographical Reference. Third edition. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
Taxonomic Notes: Was formerly in synonymy under N. typhlops (Stirling, 1889).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2014-03-08
Assessor(s): Burbidge, A.A. & Zichy-Woinarski, J.
Reviewer(s): Hawkins, C.
Contributor(s): Benshemesh, J., Johnson, K., McGilvray, A. & Ward, S.

Listed as Least Concern because recent surveys show that Kararratul are widespread and common though out much of their known range and there is no evidence of an ongoing decline.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Kakarratul occur in the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and the northern Gibson Deserts of Western Australia, and probably in the western Tanami Desert of Western Australia and western Northern Territory. Their distribution follows that of the sand dune habitat that they prefer. Connectivity of dunes in determining distribution appears important, i.e. marsupial-mole signs are less common where there is low dune connectivity, and isolated areas of dunes may not be inhabited. They may be sympatric with Itjaritjari (Notoryctes typhlops) in eastern and southern parts of their range.
Countries occurrence:
Australia (Northern Territory, Western Australia)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:50000Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:290000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:10-100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Unknown, but evidence found in most areas of suitable habitat (dunes) within the distribution. Indices of levels of activity have been developed, but these are not yet correlated with abundance.

Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:10000-50000Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Kakarratul inhabit sand dunes and, to a lesser extent, adjacent swales where there is suitable deep, loose sand. Trenching surveys have shown that potential habitat appears to be simply described as aeolian dunes. They spend almost their entire life underground, only very occasionally coming to the surface, and only remaining on the surface for a short time. Most specimens and sightings come from animals found on the surface. However, it appears they rarely come to the surface, which makes them less prone to predation by Red Foxes, Cats and other predators.

When underground, marsupial moles virtually swim through the soil. The sand is packed in behind the animal as it progresses and no empty tunnel is formed. Nevertheless, where one has passed through a soil profile, an oval shaped differentiation in soil texture and colour can be seen (Johnson and Walton 1989). Evidence of 80 kilometres of backfilled tunnel per hectare is average in areas where Kakarratul occur (Benshemesh and Mann 2009; Benshemesh and Schulz 2009), representing up to 1% of the soil within one metre of the surface.

Kakarratul, like Itjaritjari, are insectivorous, capturing their prey while underground (Pavey et al. 2012). There have been no analyses of gut contents, but the diet is probably similar to Itjaritjari comprising mainly insects, particularly ants and some beetle larvae.

Marsupial moles may be common prey items of larger mammalian predators, especially the introduced Red Fox. In the known range of Kakarratul, Benshemesh et al. (2010) found remains of marsupial moles in 8% of predator scats, especially foxes, although differences in incidence in scats between foxes and dingos (and cats) were not significant. Sign of marsupial mole was found in approximately 5% of predator scats collected from 2008 to 2012 in the Martu native title determination I Western Australia (A. McGilvray pers. comm. 2014). It is uncertain whether these predators take marsupial moles on the surface or dig them up, or indeed whether they are actually killing moles or taking dead animals. Dead or severely debilitated moles have been recorded on the surface on several occasions (Benshemesh 2004) but it seems most likely that these predators prey upon living moles that are on or just under the surface. R. T. Maurice, who travelled widely in the Great Victoria Desert between 1897 and 1903, reported that local Aboriginal people were able to capture Itjaritjari after hearing them when they were under the surface (Gara 1996 cited in Benshemesh 2004), and larger mammalian predators may do likewise. Benshemesh et al. (2010) found some evidence that Dingoes, at least, hunted Kakarratul in northern areas where it was common to find the remains of more than one marsupial mole in each dingo scat. On the surface, marsupial moles are vulnerable to a wide range of predators including birds of prey, snakes and goannas.

A study of the metabolic physiology of a single Kakarratul concluded that it differs in some aspects of thermal and metabolic physiology from other marsupials, most likely reflecting its almost completely fossorial existence (Withers et al. 2000).

Almost nothing is known of reproduction or longevity in marsupial moles (Benshemesh and Johnson 2003). Single and twin pouch young have been recorded but pouch young appear very rarely in museum collections. No marsupial moles have survived in captivity for more than a few months. Generation time can not be estimated.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No
Generation Length (years):10
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

There are no major threats as there is no evidence that the species is suffering an ongoing decline. Predation by introduced predators - Dingos, Red Foxes and feral cats - has been invoked as a significant threat; however, recent data suggests the species is widespread and relatively common. Inappropriate fire regimes (there are now larger, more intense fires) have been suggested as a threat, but there is no evidence to support this contention, especially noting the species' fossorial habits. Noise pollution from roads, railways and mines may be a threat, but if it is, it would affect a very small proportion of the range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The recent development of methods for assessing local status of Kakarratul has revealed that they are relatively widespread and locally abundant.

Citation: Burbidge, A.A. & Zichy-Woinarski, J. 2016. Notoryctes caurinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T14878A21964848. . Downloaded on 26 October 2016.
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