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Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society

Cannibalism in the mainland dusky antechinus (Antechinus mimetes mimetes) during the breeding period

Andrew M. Baker A B * , Elliot Bowerman C and Ian C. Gynther B D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biology and Environmental Science, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Qld 4000, Australia.

B Biodiversity and Geosciences Program, Queensland Museum, PO Box 3300, South Brisbane, Qld 4101, Australia.

C Sunshine Coast Council, Locked Bag 72 Sunshine Coast Mail Centre, Qld 4560, Australia.

D Department of Environment and Science, 55 Priors Pocket Road, Moggill, Qld 4070, Australia.

* Correspondence to:

Handling Editor: Bronwyn McAllan

Australian Mammalogy 46, AM23042
Submitted: 5 September 2023  Accepted: 29 December 2023  Published: 18 January 2024

© 2024 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of the Australian Mammal Society.


The carnivorous marsupial genus Antechinus is well known for exhibiting semelparity – every year, all males die after the 1–3 week breeding period. Death of males potentially presents an opportunity for cheap energy gain via cannibalism for still-living male and female antechinuses. Cannibalistic behaviour has been reported in some dasyurids, but direct observations in the wild are rare. Here, we document observations of a mainland dusky antechinus (Antechinus mimetes mimetes) eating a recently deceased conspecific during the breeding period at Point Lookout, New England National Park, New South Wales. This provides rare field-based evidence of opportunistic cannibalism in a semelparous mammal.

Keywords: Antechinus mimetes mimetes, carnivorous marsupial, dasyuridae, diet, mainland dusky antechinus, mammal, New England National Park, semelparous, suicidal reproduction, vertebrate.


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