Caloprymnus campestris 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Diprotodontia Potoroidae

Scientific Name: Caloprymnus campestris
Species Authority: (Gould, 1843)
Common Name(s):
English Desert Rat Kangaroo, Plains Rat-kangaroo, Buff-nosed Rat-kangaroo, Desert Rat-kangaroo
French Kangourou-rat Du Désert
Spanish Canguro-rata Desértico
Taxonomic Notes: No subspecies are recognised

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Extinct ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2012-12-31
Assessor(s): Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A.
Reviewer(s): Johnson, C.N. & Hawkins, C.
Contributor(s): Robinson, A. & Johnson, K.
The last confirmed record of the species came in 1935 from near Ooroowilanie, east of Lake Eyre. There have been unconfirmed sightings in South Australia and Queensland between 1957 and 2011 (Carr and Robinson 1997; Robinson and Forrest 2013).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Originally recorded from a small region in the Channel Country of north-eastern South Australia; the Desert Rat-kangaroo probably occurred also in adjacent south-eastern Queensland (Finlayson 1932, 1935; Flannery 1990; Carr and Robinson 1997; Flannery and Schouten 2001; Smith and Johnson 2008). The Desert Rat-kangaroo was discovered in the early 1840s and described by John Gould in 1843, on the basis of three specimens sent to him by George Grey, the governor of South Australia at the time, from an unknown locality in that State. After a long period (almost 90 years) with no records, the animal was rediscovered by pastoralist Mr L. Reese of Appamunna Station in 1931. Mammalogist Hedley Finlayson visited the site of Reese’s rediscovery in December 1931 and spent a week with six horsemen riding over an area of ‘about 20 square miles’ seeing 17 Desert Rat-kangaroos and catching 12 specimens (Finlayson 1932a, b, 1935; Robinson and Forest 2013).

More recent information suggests it occurred as far east as Galway Downs, north to Windorah, and west to the northern extremity of Lake Eyre. Carr and Robinson (1997) documented 13 unconfirmed sightings of animals thought to be the Desert Rat-kangaroo between 1957 and 1988. Since then there have been two additional unconfirmed sightings; a daytime flushing in August 1993, of an animal near Goyder Lagoon just north of the site of the 1931 population (K. Jury pers. comm. to A. Robinson) and a night-time sighting at The Peake Station on the Oodnadatta Track in May 2011. The latter sighting was followed up in August 2011 and although an old nest with some dried scats was found, DNA could not be isolated from the scats, so the sighting could not be confirmed (Robinson and Forrest 2013).

Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
Australia (Queensland, South Australia)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:0
Number of Locations:0
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It is presumed to be extinct. It was locally common near Cooncherie in December 1931 (Finlayson 1932a, b, 1935); no other information is available.
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:0
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Gould (1843) noted the specimens he received were taken from the 'stony and sandy plains of South Australia'. Finlayson (1932) reported that his specimens came from sand dune and gibber plain country with scattered saltbush Atriplex spp. and scattered corkwoods (probably Hakea divaricata). He described a ‘flimsy’ nest made from grass and leaves in a shallow depression scratched from loam, where it sheltered during the daytime. Carr and Robinson (1997) stated that claypans, gibber plains and sand ridges were distinctive features of the habitat in the stony transition zone between true gibber plain and loamy flats where the sparse vegetation included saltbush, other chenopods, emu bush Eremophila spp. and, rarely, a clump of stunted corkwood. There are no data on reproduction.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Extinction is considered to have been due to predation by red foxes and feral cats. Habitat degradation by introduced herbivores may have contributed to the extinction.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed on CITES Appendix I.

Classifications [top]

8. Desert -> 8.2. Desert - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Felis catus ]
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Vulpes vulpes ]
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

Bibliography [top]

Australasian Mammal Assessment Workshop. 2008. Caloprymnus campestris. In 'The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species'. Version 2011.2.

Carr, S. G. and Robinson, A. C. 1997. The present status and distribution of the Desert Rat-kangaroo Caloprymnus campestris (Marsupialia: campestris). South Australian Naturalist 72: 4-27.

Dickman, C.R. 1996. Overview of the impacts of feral cats on Australian native fauna. Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Canberra.

Finlayson, H. H. 1932. Caloprymnus campestris, its recurrence and characters. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 56: 148-167.

Finlayson, H. H. 1932. Rediscovery of Caloprymnus campestris (Marsupialia). Nature 129: 871.

Finlayson, H. H. 1935. The red centre. Man and beast in the heart of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

Flannery, T. 1990. Australia's vanishing mammals. Readers Digest Press, Surrey Hills.

Flannery, T. and Schouten, P. 2001. A gap in nature: discovering the world’s extinct animals. Text Publishing, Melbourne.

Gould, J. 1843. Mammals of Australia. Gould, J., London.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-2. Available at: (Accessed: 04 September 2016).

Kinnear, J., Sumner, N.R., and Onus, M. L. 2002. The red fox in Australia—an exotic predator turned biocontrol agent. Biological Conservation 108: 335-359.

Maxwell, S., Burbidge, A.A. and Morris, K. 1996. The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. Australasian Marsupial and Monotreme Specialist Group, IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland, Switzerland.

Robinson, A. C. and Forrest, T. 2013. A possible sighting of the Desert Rat-kangaroo or Oolacunta (Caloprymnus campestris) on The Peake Station, South Australia. South Australian Naturalist 86: 63-75.

Smith, M. J. and Johnson, P. M. 2008. Desert Rat-kangaroo, Caloprymnus campestris. In: S. Van Dyck and R. Strahan (eds), The mammals of Australia. Third Edition, pp. 295-296. Reed New Holland, Sydney, Australia.

Citation: Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A. 2016. Caloprymnus campestris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T3626A21961545. . Downloaded on 27 October 2016.
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