Swamp antechinus discovered at Hutt Bay Wetlands!

We recently picked up an exciting new fauna species record for Hutt Bay Wetland Restoration Reserve, but first, some background…

The swamp antechinus (Antechinus minimus maritimus) is a small carnivorous marsupial occurring across a large stretch of NGT’s focal region. In the South East of South Australia, the swamp antechinus is most reliably found in silky tea-tree (Leptospermum lanigerum) wet heath habitat. NGT’s manager, Mark Bachmann, conducted extensive targeted trapping for the species in the South East over 20 years ago as part of his Honours degree research. The sub-species is rated as Vulnerable federally, and Endangered in South Australia.

The distribution of the mainland sub-species of Swamp Antechinus (from Bachmann, 2001)

Although Mark spent many weeks and months trapping in our region’s wet heath in search of the swamp antechinus (from 1999 to 2001), one spot he drove past on many occasions and considered, but never quite got around to surveying, was a particular wetland between Port MacDonnell and Cape Douglas, then owned by the Thompson family – my parents. This patch has since been donated to NGT and is what we now call Hutt Bay Wetlands Restoration Reserve.

We recently conducted a week’s worth of Elliott trapping at the property as part of our baseline fauna monitoring. I recorded many native bush rats (Rattus fuscipes) and a few native swamp rats (Rattus lutreolus) along with a couple of introduced black rats and house mice. And then, on the third day – a swamp antechinus! I was stoked!

Considering the small patch of suitable habitat that was present, we had suspected that they might be around, and we’d had an anecdotal report of a sighting nearby a few years ago. But to get this confirmation was very exciting; my family was rapt.

It feels like great affirmation that retaining what is left of the native vegetation at this location (first by my grandfather, continued by my father, and now NGT) is very worthwhile. In time, hopefully NGT will even be able to undertake restoration works that will expand this area of suitable habitat in the future – so the future is looking bright for the swamp antechinus at the Hutt Bay Wetlands!

A male swamp antechinus – this one has a very healthy tick under its chin! (photo: Rose Thompson)
Rose Thompson