a deceptively vicious little predator

Names): Kowari (Dasyuroides byrneilisten)), derived from the traditional name kariri given by the Diyari people of the far north of South Australia. Defunct names include brush-tailed marsupial rat, bushy-tailed marsupial rat, brush-tailed marsupial rat, and Byrne’s crested-tailed rat.

Band: Dasyurids

Cut: Head-body length 13-18 cm, tail length 11-16 cm; weight 55-180 grams

Diet: Carnivorous, eating a range of invertebrates, small mammals, reptiles, birds and eggs

Habitat: Found in the gibber plains of northeastern South Australia and southwestern Queensland

Conservation state: Vulnerable

Superpower: Curiously, the kowari carries a distinctive smell, which has been compared to that of a mop!

A running kowari. Credit: Ariana Ananda

Kowaris are the largest Australian animal you’ve never heard of!

Small, solitary and vicious, the kowari thrives where few brave souls dare to venture. In the heart of Australia’s arid zone, kowaris burrow into mounds of sand scattered across the gibberish plains of the Stony Desert bioregion. While their current range is restricted to northeastern South Australia and southwestern Queensland, their historic range extended north into the Northern Territory and further south to Lake Eyre .

Kowaris are fascinating creatures. Prancing across the landscape in the dark of night with its distinctive bushy tail raised high, the kowari is a highly efficient predator and will attempt to feast on anything smaller than itself…and potentially a few things larger too. !

Family membership Dasyuridae places the kowari alongside better-known predators such as the Tasmanian devil, quoll species, and the extinct thylacine. Like their larger counterparts, kowaris consume a wide variety of prey, including invertebrates, reptiles, small mammals, birds, and eggs, and do not need to drink water as they obtain sufficient food. moisture through their diet. They will even eat smaller dasyurid species – sorry, no friends in the food game!

Kowaris have even been observed to ward off predatory bird attacks by standing upright and lunging at their would-be predators. By disrupting the initial capture attempt, they can buy time to locate a nearby burrow and escape to safety.

Worryingly, the remaining fragmented populations of the kowari are threatened by pastoral activity and invasive predators, and these dasyurids have so far demonstrated poor ability to disperse into suitable habitats they once called home. To find out more about ongoing research into the kowari and to help protect this unique Australian species, visit Kowari team website.

Nb kowari zoom
Credit: Nathan Beerkens

We all love birds, but why should our feathered friends have fun? This winter, join Cosmos in celebrating the incredible diversity of Australian mammals, from the antechinus to the yellow-legged wallaby, in our first-ever Australian Mammal of the Year poll.

Keep an eye on the Cosmos website or subscribe to our mailing list for new awesome articles. Australian mammal species every week. You can even nominate your own favorite Australian mammal using the form below!

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