banksia1

Mammals

Up to thirty species of mammals occurred in Banksia Woodland before the early settlers came to Western Australia in 1829.  Many of these species disappeared following land clearing and the introduction of foxes and cats.  The Nyungar people’s traditional burning practices encouraged the growth and flowering of food plants, which favoured native mammal species.  Some small patches were burned regularly while others were left unburnt for long periods.  The change in frequency and extent of fires following settlement was probably also a factor in the decline of some species of mammals.

 

chuditch

Chuditch  Dasyurus geoffroii

An aggressive predator, the Chuditch was once widespread in Banksia woodland and would have occurred in the area of the Agora Bushwalk.  This large marsupial’s diet includes any animals that it can catch.  Mostly, it captures invertebrates but the Chuditch will also tackle lizards, snakes, Noodjis and birds.  A female Chuditch bears two to six young which she carries in her pouch until they become too large, at about nine weeks old.  The mother Chuditch then leaves them in a den when she goes out hunting. 

Chuditch disappeared from the Perth area in the 1930s, but in areas where foxes are controlled, the Chuditch is becoming more common again and is occasionally seen on the outskirts of Perth.

Honey Possum photo Mike Bamford

Honey Possum  Tarsipes rostratus

The Honey Possum is an extraordinary marsupial.  It has small, peg-like teeth and feeds only on nectar and pollen from a range of plants including Banksia, Eucalypts, and shrubs such as Jacksonia sp. (Stinkwood) Hakea andGrevillea, depending on the season and what is in flower.  To conserve energy during the day, Honey Possums crawl into leaf litter, into the base of a Grasstree or an old bird’s nest, drop their body temperature and go into torpor (a deep sleep).  Honey Possums would once have occurred at the Agora Bushwalk but need large areas of bushland to survive.  They still occur in large patches of bushland that contain many plants of a range of flowering species to supply them with nectar and pollen.  Honey Possums are probably important pollinators of many flowering native plant species.

Western Grey Kangaroo

Western Grey Kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus

The Western Grey Kangaroo is a large herbivore which feeds on grasses, herbs and sometimes browses shrubs.  In small numbers, it is useful in patches of remnant bushland as it helps to selectively graze out introduced grassy weeds, allowing native species to regenerate.  

Although Western Grey Kangaroos can breed at any time of year, joeys are usually born in summer and leave the pouch after 42 weeks.  They continue to suckle until they are 18 months old.  This iconic Australian species still occurs in patches of bushland surrounding Alkimos and other parts of Perth and can co-exist with people provided roadways are fenced and dogs are kept under control.

White-striped Bat

Bats

Nine species of bats occur in Banksia woodland and several of them probably still fly through the Agora Bushwalk at night.  Bats hide under bark or in hollows during the day.   At night they emerge to hunt for invertebrates and will sometimes travel up to 12 kilometres in search of prey. 

Different species of bats have different ways of hunting.  Gould’s Wattled Bat (Chalinolobus gouldi) feeds on flying and crawling insects above and below the tree canopy.  White-striped Bats (Tadarida australis) usually feed on high-flying moths above the canopy but will sometimes pounce on invertebrates on the ground, or even snatch them from the surface of water.  The Lesser Long-eared Bat (Nyctophilus geoffroyii) feeds under the canopy, gleaning insects off the foliage of understorey plants and hovering over the ground to catch crawling insects.  Lesser Long-eared bats are even able to land and take off from the water’s surface, unlike most other species of bats. 

noodji

Noodji  Pseudomys albocinereus

The Noodji or Ash-Grey Mouse is a native rodent that feeds on seeds, leaves and stems of plants in Banksia Woodland.  When conditions are dry, it will also feed on invertebrates for their moisture content.  Noodjis live in deep, colonial burrows or hollow logs, to protect them from the cold, and from predators such as Chuditch and snakes.  Once common in the Perth area, Noodjis have now disappeared from fragmented bushland near houses, probably due to predation by foxes and cats and possibly competition from introduced rodents like the Black Rat.  They are still common in un-fragmented Banksia Woodland and heathland north of Perth, away from cities and towns.