Sminthopsis psammophila Spencer, 1895:223

Sandhill dunnart, Sandhill sminthopsis, Large desert sminthopsis, Large desert marsupial-mouse, Sandhill marsupial mouse (Frith, 1979:316)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Sminthopsis psammophilus Spencer, 1895:223 (protonym)


Conservation Status

Last record: 1894 (18 June or later)

Rediscovered in 1969

IUCN RedList status: Vulnerable



Northern Territory, South Australia & Western Australia, Australia


Biology & Ecology

"Ecology: terrestrial, predator, hummock grassland; desert sandhill country, mallee-broombush vegetation with hummock grassland."

(Mahoney & Ride, 1988:33)



Holotype: NMV C6203 (male spirit specimen; plus skull) (Mahoney & Ride, 1988:33)

Type locality: "between Kurtitina Well and Ayers Rock[, N.T.]" (Parker, 1973:6; Mahoney & Ride, 1988:33)


Other specimens:

SAM M7972 (Tunbridge, 1991:13)






Original scientific description:

Spencer, B. (1895). Preliminary notice of two new species of marsupials from Central Australia. Proc. R. Soc. Vict. (ns) 7: 222-224.


Other references:

Aitken, P. F. (1971). Rediscovery of the Large Desert Sminthopsis (Sminthopsis psammophilus Spencer) on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. Victorian Naturalist 88: 103-111.

Archer, Michael. (1979). The status of Australian dasyurids, thylacinids and myrmecobiids, pp. 29-43. In: Tyler, Michael J. (ed.). The Status of Endangered Australasian Wildlife. Proceedings of the Centenary Symposium of the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia, Adelaide, 21-23 September, 1978. [pagination is taken from the 1980 reprint, may actually be pp. 23-42?]

Burbidge, Andrew A., Fuller, P. J. and McKenzie, N. L. (1995). Vertebrate fauna. In: Keighery, G. J., McKenzie, N. L. and Hall, N. J. (eds.). The Biological Survey of the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia. Part 12. Barlee–Menzies Study Area. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 49: 208-245.

Burbidge, Andrew A. and McKenzie, Norman L. (1989). Patterns in the modern decline of western Australia's vertebrate fauna: Causes and conservation implications. Biological Conservation 50(1-4): 143-198.

Churchill, S. 2001. Recovery Plan for the Sandhill Dunnart (Sminthopsis psammophila). Biodiversity Conservation Program. Department for Environment and Heritage, South Australia.

Crowley, G. M. (ed.). (2008). Management Guidelines for the Threatened Species of the Northern Territory. Version 1. Tropical Savannas CRC, Darwin.Generated from on 9th September, 2008.

Ecological Horizons. 2012. Middleback Alliance annual report August 2012. Ecological Horizons , Kimba.

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

Fisher, Diana O. (2011). Trajectories from extinction: where are missing mammals rediscovered? Global Ecology & Biogeography 20: 415-425. [Appendix S1]

Ford, C., and Hogg, C. 2012. Australasian species management program: regional census and plan, 22nd Edition. Zoo and Aquarium Association, Sydney.

Frith, H. J. (1979). Wildlife Conservation, revised edition. Angus & Robertson. xiv + 416 pp. [p. 302 (table), p. 316 (species account)]

Hart, R.P. and Kitchener, D.J. 1986. First record of Sminthopsis psammophila (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae) from Western Australia. Records of the West Australian Museum 13: 139-144.

Henry-Hall, N.J. (1990). Nature conservation reserves in the Eastern Goldfields, Western Australia (southern two-thirds of CTRC System 11). Unpublished report submitted to the EPA Red Book Task Force. Environmental Protection Authority, Perth, Western Australia. [Appendix 13]

Hoser, Raymond T. (1991). Endangered Animals of Australia. Mosman, NSW: Pierson & Co. 240 pp. [pp. 190-191]

Iredale, Tom and Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1934). A check-list of the mammals recorded from Australia. Mem. Aust. Mus. 6: i-xii, 1-122.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

Jackson, Stephen and Groves, Colin. (2015). Taxonomy of Australian Mammals. Clayton South, Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing. 529 pp. [p. 73]

Kinnear, J., Sumner, N.R. and Onus, M.L. 2002. The red fox in Australia—an exotic predator turned biocontrol agent. Biological Conservation 108: 335-359.

Lambert, C., Gaikhorst, G., and Matson, P. 2011. Captive breeding of the sandhill dunnart, Sminthopsis psammophila (Marsupialia : Dasyuridae): reproduction, husbandry and growth and development. Australian Mammalogy 33: 21-27.

Mahoney, J. A. and Ride, W. D. L. (1988). Dasyuridae, pp. 14-33. In: Walton, D. W. (ed.). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 5. Mammalia. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. x + 273 pp. [p. 33]

Maxwell, S., Burbidge, A.A. and Morris, K. 1996. The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. Australasian Marsupial and Monotreme Specialist Group, IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland, Switzerland.

McDowell, Matthew C. (1997). Taphonomy and palaeoenvironmental interpretation of a late Holocene deposit from Black’s Point Sinkhole, Venus Bay, SA. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 117: 79-95.

McLean, A., Lancaster, M., Cooper, S., and Carthew, S. 2012. Life history of an endangered marsupial: implications for conservation. Australian Mammal Society 58th Scientific Meeting.

Parker, Shane A. (1973). An annotated checklist of the native land mammals of the Northern Territory. Rec. S. Aust. Mus. 16(11): 1-57.

Pearson D.J. 1995. Sandhill Dunnart Sminthopsis psammophila. Pp. 154-155 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.

Pearson, D.J. and Churchill, S. K. 2008. Sandhill Dunnart, Sminthopsis psammophila. In: S. Van Dyck and R. Strahan (eds), The Mammals of Australia. Third Edition, pp. 156-158. Reed New Holland, Sydney, Australia.

Pearson, D. J., Churchill, S. K., Riley, J. L. and Turpin, J. M. (2023). Sandhill Dunnart, Sminthopsis psammophila, pp. 148-149. In: Baker, Andrew M. and Gynther, Ian C. (eds.). Strahan’s Mammals of Australia (4th ed.). Wahroonga, NSW: Reed New Holland Publishers. 848 pp.

Pearson, D.J. and Robinson, A.C. 1990. New records of the Sandhill Dunnart, Sminthopsis psammophila (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae) in South and Western Australia. Australian Mammalogy 13: 57-59.

Ride, W. D. L. (1970). A Guide to the Native Mammals of Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Riley, J. et al. (2021). Predicting the past, present and future distributions of an endangered marsupial in a semi-arid environment. Animal Conservation.

Scheffers, Brett R., Yong, Ding Li, Harris, J. Berton C., Giam, Xingli and Sodhi, Navjot S. (2011). The world’s rediscovered species: back from the brink? PLoS ONE 6(7): e22531. [Supporting Information (Table S1)]

Spencer, W. B. (1896a). Through Larapinta Land: a narrative of the Horn Expedition to Central Australia, pp. xiii-xviii, 1-136. In: Spencer, B. (ed.). Report on the Work of the Horn Scientific Expedition to Central Australia. Part 1. Introduction, narrative, summary of results, supplement to zoological report, map. Melbourne: Melville, Mullen & Slade.

Spencer, W. B. (1896b). Mammalia, pp. 1-52. In: Spencer, W. B. (ed.). Report on the Work of the Horn Scientific Expedition to Central Australia. Part 2. Melbourne: Melville, Mullen & Slade.

Thornback, Jane and Jenkins, Martin (compilers). (1982). The IUCN Mammal Red Data Book. Part 1: Threatened Mammalian Taxa of the Americas and the Australasian Zoogeographic Region (Excluding Cetacea). Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. 516 pp.

Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1965). A review of the marsupial genus Sminthopsis (Phascogalinae) and diagnoses of new forms. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 89: 307-321.

Tunbridge, Dorothy. (1991). The Story of the Flinders Ranges Mammals. Kenthurst: Kangaroo Press. 96 pp. [p. 13]

Van Weenen, J., Ward, M.J. and Churchill, S. (2012). National recovery plan for the Sandhill Dunnart Sminthopsis psammophila. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Adelaide.

Ward, M. (2008). Monitoring sandhill dunnarts, Sminthopsis psammophila, in the Great Victoria Desert. Unpublished report to Department for Environment and Heritage, South Australia.

Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A. 2016. Sminthopsis psammophila. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T20293A21947794. Downloaded on 16 February 2017.


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