|Habitat and Ecology:|
In Tasmania, the White-footed Dunnart is widely distributed in most vegetation types including sclerophyll forest, heath and rainforest at altitudes up to 810 m, but is infrequently recorded (Rounsevell et al. 1991; Lunney 2008). In Victoria, it occurs in a range of habitats including coastal tussock grassland and sedgeland, wet heath, and forest or woodland with a dense (>50% cover) heathy understorey or mid-story vegetation (Menkhorst 1995). In New South Wales its habitat includes heathy woodlands and forest, coastal scrub and coastal dune grassland. There it has been recorded in early- to mid-successional vegetation and in post-fire and post-logging coastal forests (Morton et al. 1980; Lunney 2008). In north Queensland, the species has been recorded only occasionally and records are from mature or regenerating notophyll vine forest at altitudes of >750 m.
In the Otway Ranges of southern Victoria, it has been recorded in regrowth 4-16 years post-fire (Wilson and Aberton 2006). In New South Wales a study found that it bred in disturbed habitat but did not persist when the vegetation regrew and became dense (Lunney and Ashby 1987). Another study (Lunney and Leary 1989) found that females occupied small home ranges, and capture sites did not overlap with those of other females. Males did not have exclusive capture sites and the home ranges overlapped. Their movement patterns fell into two groups: explorer males and resident males. The largest movement of an explorer male was 1025 m in 24 hours. It was concluded that suitable habitat, such as recently disturbed forest, may occur naturally only as disjunct and temporary patches, hence the ability to travel long distances enables this species to utilise these suddenly abundant and transient resources and that the pattern of habitat selection identified showed the White-footed Dunnart to be ecologically distinct from the other species of small mammals in the forest and thus in need of special consideration in management programs (Lunney and Leary 1989; Lunney et al. 1989). However, in Victoria, the evidence for a preference for disturbed sites or regenerating vegetation is less clear (Menkhorst 1995).
White-footed Dunnarts prey on a wide variety of invertebrates of up to 18 mm in length, including skinks of up to 1.5 g. They nest in tree hollows, and under logs and strips of bark (Lunney 2008).
In New South Wales and Victoria, mating occurs in late July and August. Up to 10 young are born, occupying the rudimentary pouch until eight weeks of age when they are left in a nest and suckled for a further month (Lunney 2008). In Tasmania breeding commences in early spring, young being carried in the pouch during September and October (Green 2007). White-footed Dunnart females appear to have only one short breeding season during their lifetime and males apparently do not survive to breed in a second year (Menkhorst 1995). Longevity is up to 2.5 years (Jones et al. 2009), but is probably less on average in the wild. Generation length is here assumed to be one year.