The Carpentarian Rock-rat is a small rodent with grey-brown fur. Growing to an average body length of 19.7 cm and weighing up to 136 g, the Carpentarian Rock-rat has a carrot shaped relatively hairy tail in which fat deposits are stored. The tail grows to approximately 15 cm long and has longer hairs at the tip (Puckey et al. 2004, Strahan 1998). As with other Rock-rats, the Carpentarian Rock-rat is known to lose its tail, fur and skin very easily (Puckey et al. 2004) and the species is often captured with a broken off tail forming a stump (Puckey & Woinarksi 2006).
Carpentarian Rock-rat, Aywalirroomoo |
Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Australian Government, Conservation Advice, Zyzomys palatalis
Climate Change Kutt et al (2009) predicted a 90 decline in High area of suitable habitat due to climate (Future) change for the period 2009 2030; by modelling possible future distributions under IPCC climate change scenarios.
Numbers of Locations and Subpopulations The threats with the highest potential impact are inappropriate fire regimes and climate change; and the impact of climate change is most likely to be expressed through increased frequency of high intensity fires.
Trainor et al. (2000) concluded that the Carpentarian Rock rat s habitat is undergoing continuing decline as a result of fire degrading; diminishing; or altering the composition of monsoon rainforest patches.
Analysis of the frequency and scale of fire scars over 2000 2017 (DENR unpublished data) shows that fires have occurred at all known sites between one and five times within this period; typically carrying from the savanna woodland into the edges of the closed forest.
Gradual elimination of fire sensitive plant species typical of the slope and valley floor is of concern because these plants characterise the preferred habitat and consitute the greatest proportion of the diet of this species.
Although current trends in the forest savanna habitat mosaic are uncertain; an assumption will be made that fire is having an impact rather than not.
Specify if the threat is past; current or specific subpopulations) (what is the potential) level of threat to the conservation of the species) Inappropriate fire regime All monsoon vine thicket habitat patches High exist in a flammable matrix of spinifex and (Past; current and future) eucalypt woodland.
Brook et al (2002) considered fire (particularly intense fire) the most significant threat; operating through reduction in habitat and other intrinsic stochastic hazards associated with small Zyzomys palatalis (Carpentarian Rock rat) nomination 2017 populations that may result post fire or due to habitat degradation.
Analysis of the frequency and scale of fire scars over 2000 2017 shows a northern pattern or fire path influencing sites North 1; North 2 and Camel Creek; and a southern fire path across sites Aquarium; Moonlight Gorge and McDermott Springs (DENR unpublished).
The species habitat is undergoing continuing decline as a result of fire degrading; diminishing; or altering the composition of monsoon rainforest patches (see Distribution section above for discussion).
Summary The Carpentarian Rock rat has a very small distribution (EOO c. 12121 km2 and AOO 48 km2); occurs across three sub populations and three to five locations; and the quality of its habitat is declining due to the impacts of inappropriate fire regimes and feral herbivores.