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Crest-tailed mulgara (Dasycercus cristicauda)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Dasyuromorphia
Family: Dasyuridae
Subfamily: Dasyurinae
Tribe: Dasyurini
Genus: Dasycercus
Peters, 1875
Type species
'Chaetocercus' cristicauda
Krefft, 1867

Mulgaras are the two species in the genus Dasycercus. They are marsupial carnivores, closely related to the Tasmanian devil and the quolls, that live in deserts and spinifex grasslands of arid Australia. They are nocturnal, but occasionally "sunbathe" in the entrance of the burrow in which they dwell. Their kidneys are highly developed to excrete extremely concentrated urine to preserve water, as the animals rarely drink. They feed mostly on insects, but also eat reptiles and small mammals. They are seasonal breeders breed from June–September. The pouch comprises two lateral folds of skin.

Recent research has shown two distinct species, which are very similar. The brush-tailed mulgara (D. blythi), (previously classified as D.cristicauda), has an uncrested tail, two upper premolars, and six nipples. The crest-tailed mulgara (previously D. hillieri but now reclassified as D. cristicauda) has a crested tail, three upper premolars, and eight nipples.

The generic name Dasycercus means "hairy tail".

Species identification

Crest-tail Mulgara
Mulgara in its natural habitat.

A long history of confusion exists when classifying mulgaras, and only recently has confidence in the taxonomy of the two species been gained. Identification of the species has been greatly assisted by detailed genetic and morphological studies of museum specimens. The most distinguishing feature in identifying the two species is the crest of hair on the tail. The crest-tailed mulgara has a crest of long black hairs on the upper side of the distal end of the tail, while the brush-tailed mulgara has a brush of black hairs along the final two-thirds of the tail. The two species also have a slightly different dental formation, which is difficult to observe in live animals, and the brush-tailed mulgara has six nipples while the crest-tailed Mulgara has eight. Mulgaras are distributed through the arid regions of Australia where they live in short burrows. The crest-tailed mulgara, previously referred to as the Ampurta, is listed as vulnerable.


Both species of mulgaras use torpor daily. Studies have shown they use torpor in the wild and in the lab setting. In contrast to most other mammals, mulgaras increase their use of torpor during pregnancy. By conserving energy with torpor, pregnant females can increase their body mass, but it seems they use it to increase fat storage, for lactation later. Pregnant females and breeding males both use torpor during the winter. Free-ranging males, however, only display torpor briefly during the reproductive season, and instead increase their use of torpor after the breeding season is over.

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