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Australasian Carnivorous Marsupials: Dasyuromorphia

Conservation Status

Many Australasian carnivorous marsupials have not been studied by scientists. There are no good estimates of how many are left in the wild and how things such as deforestation (clearing the land of trees) are affecting them. One family in this order, Tasmanian wolves, has already gone extinct. The last time a Tasmanian wolf was confirmed to exist in the wild was in 1930. The last remaining animal was in captivity in a zoo and died shortly thereafter in 1936.

Many Australasian carnivorous marsupials such as the southern dibbler and the sandhill dunnart are considered to be Endangered, or facing a very high risk of becoming extinct in the wild. Many others are considered Vulnerable, which means they face a high risk of extinction in the wild.


When European settlers first came to Australia, they discovered many animals that they did not have back home. When naming the new animals, they chose names based on their experiences with how these new animals looked and sounded. One new animal had large, sharp, white teeth, and ears that turned red when it got angry. It also made horrible screeching noises in the night. The new settlers named this animal the Tasmanian devil.

There are many reasons that Australasian carnivorous marsupials are facing the threat of extinction. The cutting down of forest areas to clear land for agriculture affects many species, as does the changing pattern of fires set to clear grassland areas. Many species are Vulnerable or Endangered in Australia and surrounding areas because of the introduction of the red fox, which is not native to the region. In areas where the red fox is found, populations of Australasian carnivorous mammals have substantially decreased.



Fenton, Julie A. Kangaroos and Other Marsupials. Chicago: World Book, 2000.

Hoare, Ben, ed. International Wildlife Encyclopedia, 3rd ed. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2002.

Nowak, Ronald M., ed. Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th ed. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Woods, Samuel G. Sorting Out Mammals: Everything You Want to Know About Marsupials, Carnivores, Herbivores, and More! Woodbridge, CT: Blackbirch Marketing, 1999.


Hecht, Jeff. "The Sun Warmed Up Evolution For Us All." New Scientist (August 31, 2002): 17.

Other sources:

"The Amazing Marsupials." Australian Ark Documentary Series. Columbia Tristar, 1994.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsAustralasian Carnivorous Marsupials: Dasyuromorphia - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, AUSTRALASIAN CARNIVOROUS MARSUPIALS AND PEOPLE