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These Aussie Animals Who Die From Too Much Sex Are Going Extinct

There are fears a small, rare marsupial known for its “suicidal mating habits” might be extinct in one of its best-known habitats.

Queensland researchers discovered the black-tailed dusky antechinus in national park in the state’s Gold Coast hinterland back in 2014.

They say the rodent-like animal is “highly sexed”, and spends a couple of weeks mating “frenetically” each year -- until the males literally drop dead.

The species was placed on Australia’s endangered list last year. But researchers fear it could now be extinct.

The black-tailed dusky antechinus (Antechinus arktos) was discovered in 2014 Photo: Supplied

Dr Andrew Baker and his team, who discovered the marsupial, returned to Springbrook National Park -- one of its four known mountain habitats -- last month, and were “alarmed” by what they found.

Baker said the group has set 1750 traps as part of trap-and-release studies in the same area each year between 2013 and 2017.

“During those visits, it has been teeming with small mammals of various species easily caught, and that was what we expected to see this year,” he said, adding he was looking out for up to 10 black-tailed dusky antechinus and about 250 of the common brown antechinus species.

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“In the 1750 traps recently set, no rare black-tailed dusky antechinus were captured, nor any of the very common brown antechinus,” he said.

“We also saw a five-fold drop in the expected numbers of mosaic-tailed rats captured and a 30-fold decrease in bush rats captured.”

QUT mammalogist Dr Andrew Baker and his team discovered the species. Photo: Supplied

The researcher said the results were “off the charts” and “very concerning”.

“Both the males and females are usually seeking to increase their strength ahead of the synchronised mating event that occurs from late August into September each year,” he said.

“So it begs a worrying question -– is the black-tailed dusky antechinus lost from this area?”

Baker said climate change and extreme weather patterns could be behind the drop in numbers, along with feral predators.

Researchers will return to the area next month, along with the species’ other known locations in the Scenic Rim region of South-East Queensland.

Featured image: Supplied