Food, flowers used to save Australia's most endangered species

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/11/21 9:55:42

Australian researchers have successfully boosted the breeding rate of the country's most endangered species, the smoky mouse.

There are fewer than 1,000 smoky mice left in Australia after the species' trusting nature led to it being decimated by feral cats and foxes.

Scientists from the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) have resorted to decking out the breeding enclosures of six adult mice with flowers and food.

The old-fashioned method has resulted in six litters of baby mice being born at the facility, the only one of its kind in Australia, in a short period.

Damon Oliver, OEH threatened species team leader, said the breeding program could help save the "uniquely Australian" rodent.

Daniel Gowland, a breeding specialist, said the team had created the perfect breeding environment for the rodents.

"Food is a stimulus for us all, it's one of the first little integrations we do ... and it's one of the main things we had to work on," Gowland told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday.

"We need to give flowers once or twice a week and that way they can take what they want - their body can give them the cue: 'I need to eat a little bit of this'."

Researchers placed a male mouse in one enclosure and a female mouse in another with a third room connecting the two.

Typically, the mice spent two weeks in their own enclosure with the flowers and food before using pipes to move into the neutral territory.

"Straight away, we can see the girl's gone 'Oh, I like you' and dragged the little boy into her room and the boy's moved straight in," Gowland said.

"It will take a couple of weeks still, what they tend to do is set up their own little house, but right when they're about to give birth they set up a birthing suite in that common ground."


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