Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Extinct
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NT:Threatened Species of the Northern Territory - Lesser Stick-nest rat Leporillus apicalis (Pavey, C., 2006i) [Information Sheet].
VIC:Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement 13 - Extinct Mammals 1 (Seebeck, J. & I. Mansergh, 2003) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Extinct (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
NT: Listed as Extinct (Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000 (Northern Territory): 2012 list)
SA: Listed as Endangered (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list)
VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014 list)
WA: Listed as Presumed Extinct (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Critically Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
VIC: Listed as Extinct (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)
Scientific name Leporillus apicalis [136]
Family Muridae:Rodentia:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Gould, 1853)
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

The Lesser Stick-nest Rat was a moderately sized native rodent (body mass 60 g) that differed from its larger relative, the Greater Stick-nest Rat, by the narrow brush of white hairs near the tip of its tail (Krefft 1866).

The last specimen of the Lesser Stick-nest Rat was captured near Mt Crombie, south-west of the present Amata settlement, South Australia in 1933. However, in the nineteenth century it occupied a broad area stretching from the Riverina in New South Wales, through most of inland South Australia and into the Gibson Desert, reaching the Western Australian coast in the Gascoyne region (Baynes & Johnson 1996; Burbidge et al. 1988; Cole & Woinarski 2000; Finlayson 1961).

The Lesser Stick-nest Rat is presumed to have become extinct in the Northern Territory by the 1940s, following a broad-scale decline extending over at least the previous 30 years (Burbidge et al. 1988; Cole & Woinarski 2000; Finlayson 1961).

The Lesser Stick-nest Rat occupied arid and semi-arid lands (Burbidge et al. 1988; Cole & Woinarski 2000).

The biology of the Lesser Stick-nest Rat is poorly known. Its most notable feature was its construction of nests of sticks, sometimes in the open, but often in caves and under rock overhangs. One large nest found on De rose Hill Station in South Australia measured about 3 m by 2 m and was 1 m high (Watts & Eves 1976).

The Lesser Stick-nest Rat appeared to be herbivorous. Faecal pellets collected from old nests in South Australia consisted almost entirely of vegetable matter, in particular, the fleshy-leaved perennial shrub Sclerolaena eriacantha (Watts & Eves 1976).

The Lesser Stick-nest Rat was nocturnal (Krefft 1866).

The decline and extinction of the Lesser Stick-nest Rat was probably due to a range of factors including predation by cats and foxes, and habitat alteration due to the impacts of exotic herbivores and changed fire regimes. It appears to have been unable to compete with the sheep, cattle and rabbits introduced by European settlers (Burbidge et al. 1988; Cole & Woinarski 2000; Finlayson 1961).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Leporillus apicalis in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006pc) [Internet].

Baynes, A. & K.A. and Johnson (1996). The contributions of the Horn Expedition and cave deposits to knowledge of the original mammal fauna of Central Australia. In: Morton S.R., and D.J. Mulvaney, eds. Exploring Central Australia: Society, the Environment and the 1894 Horn Expedition. Page(s) 168-186. Sydney: Surrey Beatty and Sons.

Burbidge, A.A., K.A. Johnson, P.J. Fuller, & R.I. Southgate (1988). Aboriginal knowledge of the mammals of the central deserts of Australia. Australian Wildlife Research. 15:9-39.

Cole, J.R. & J.C.Z. Woinarski (2000). Rodents of the arid Northern Territory: conservation status and distribution. Wildlife Research. 27:437-449.

Finlayson, H.H. (1961). On central Australian mammals, IV, The distribution and status of central Australian species. Records of the South Australian Museum. 14:141-191.

Krefft, G. (1866). On the vertebrated animals of the lower Murray and Darling, their habits, economy and geographical distribution. Transactions of the Philosophical Society of New South Wales. 65:1-33.

Watts, C.H.S. & B.M. Eves (1976). Notes on the nests and diet of the white-tailed stick-nest rat Leporillus apicalis in northern South Australia. South Australian Naturalist. 51:9-12.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Leporillus apicalis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Tue, 2 Sep 2014 16:56:11 +1000.