The Northern Hopping-mouse is a small terrestrial rodent weighing between 30-40g, with a head and body length of approximately 90-94mm and a tail length of approximately 156-165mm. The species has features typical of hopping-mice, with very long narrow hind feet, large ears and eyes, and a very long partly tufted tail. It has sandy-brown fur on top and paler fur below. Hopping-mice move with a distinctive gait and its bipedal tracks can provide a ‘sign’ of its presence. The Northern Hopping-mouse is the only representative of its genus in northern Australia’s wetdry tropics and the only species that occurs outside the arid and semi-arid zones.
Northern Hopping-mouse |
Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Australian Government, Conservation Advice, Notomys aquilo
However studies of fire in the tropical savannas indicate that the occurrence of fire; independent of its intensity; is a major factor influencing the abundance fire sensitive species such as small mammals (Andersen et al 2003 Anderson et al 2005).
The potential threats to the Northern Hopping mouse on Groote Eylandt are feral cats; habitat loss and alteration; inappropriate fire regimes; feral herbivores; and invasive transformer weeds.
Higher frequency burning occurs in localised areas south of Angurugu and along the Umbakumba highway; where some areas are burnt every year.
Altered fire regimes have contributed to declines of small and medium sized mammal species and some bird species across northern Australia (Legge et al. 2011b; Lawes et al. 2015a; b Legge et al. 2019 Stobo Wilson et al. 2020).
Gamba Grass in particular; is a high biomass grass that out competes native grasses and increases fuel loads; promoting intense dry season fires which may have a detrimental effect on the species habitat (Rossiter et al; 2003 TSSC 2009).
The impacts of inappropriate fire regimes and the expansion of mining on Groote Eylandt are unclear and may exacerbate the species vulnerability to cat predation (Woinarski 2004 Leahy et al. 2015; McGregor et al. 2015).
Undertake research to improve the understanding of the relationships between cat density and predation on the Northern Hopping mouse; and the interactions between cat predation and other threats such as inappropriate fire regimes and habitat disturbance.
Establish and implement surveillance monitoring of trends in key threats to the species; including fire regimes; feral cat densities; priority weeds; introduced fauna; flora and faunal diseases and the impact of disturbance.