Shay got quite a surprise when she noticed a small critter inside her child’s toy farm house, it was obviously a baby and it did not look like your average feral house mouse, so Shay called WIRES for advice.
The little critter is an Antechinus, and right now it is really important that you know how to tell the difference between a feral mouse/rat and a native Antechinus, as spring is the season Antechinus young may be found orphaned.
Antechinus are sadly often mistaken for feral mice or rats, but there are many differences. Antechinus lack the pungent odours associated with mice and rats, they also lack the enlarged incisor teeth (front) like mice and rats.
All Antechinus have long, pointed jaws full of many sharp teeth like that of a dog or cat.
In the bush, Antechinus construct vegetation-lined nests in tree hollows, fallen trees and vegetation, rocky crevices or caves. But they can make themselves at home inside people’s houses, especially in the kitchen and other areas where insects such as cockroaches congregate. You may not be aware that they are there, wings of cockroaches, legs of spiders and long elongated scats found in the morning on the bench, may be the only signs of their presence. They are great visitors as they keep the home free of crawling insects and only come out when it is dark and quiet.
They do not eat your bread, they do not tear open packets of food, they are primarily insectivorous but they may also take a little bite or two out of any fruit or avocado left out on the kitchen bench.
Seen here having a drink of hydration fluid after coming into WIRES care, this little native will be released back to where it was found although not inside the toy farmhouse, but outside in its natural habitat when it is old enough to fend for itself.
Antechinus are fascinating little creatures, they play a vital role in our environment, please make sure you know the difference between native and feral creatures and never use anti-coagulant rodenticides.
Thank you Shay for calling WIRES, and thank you Lismore Central Veterinary Hospital for your continued support and examining this little orphan.
Pictures by Lib Ruytenberg