Conservationists around the world have been rejoicing at the news that a tiny little Australian fellow weighing no more than around 50g is alive and living in his natural habitat in parts of NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
The mouse is, indeed, in the house. But there are no shrieking housewives climbing on chairs to avoid the endangered smoky mouse.
Elation that species survived the devastating bushfires
There is just elation that the species has survived the devastating bushfires that swept through its habitats during the recent Black Summer bushfires. Even mice which were being held 50km away from the fires, in what was thought to be a safe area, died from smoke inhalation.
But these are tough little Aussie creatures and somehow they have endured. Evidence of the endangered smoky mouse has now been seen at seven fire-damaged sites in southern New South Wales.
The NSW Office of Environment set up 58 motion-sensor cameras over the last five weeks to monitor wildlife following the Dunns Road, fire which devastated the Kosciuszko national park and surrounding region over the summer.
We were fearing the worst, environment minister said
“We are relieved and delighted by this news as we were fearing the worst … as more than 90% of their habitat was burnt,” the NSW environment minister, Matt Kean, said.
“After such a confronting and challenging start to the year, it was a very happy moment to know a native animal already threatened with extinction has survived.”
Speaking to the Guardian newspaper,Kevin Rowe, a senior curator of mammals for Museums Victoria, said the mice are “really just lovely.” Their charcoal fur is reputedly soft and silky and Rowe even said that “they actually smell really nice… Males especially smell like a kind of smoky burnt vanilla, and they have really nice calm temperaments.”
A government-funded captive breeding programme has bred 47 mice to maturity in the last four years. In future it is hoped to reintroduce some of these mice back into the wild, where the natural population is low due to predators such as feral cats.