Red-tailed phascogales: A review of their biology and importance as model marsupial species

Julie M. Old, Oselyne T.W. Ong, Hayley J. Stannard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


There are many limitations when using traditional laboratory species. Limits on variation, may result in limited outcomes, at both the species and individual level, due to different individuals/species having diverse physiological processes, or differing molecular and genetic mechanisms. By using a variety of model species, we will be able to develop creative solutions to biological problems and identify differences of which we were not previously aware. The laboratory mouse has been a suitable model species for various mammalian studies, however most are bred specifically for laboratory research with limited variability due to selective breeding. Marsupial models offer unique research opportunities compared to eutherian models. We believe that there should be an expansion in marsupial model species, and the introduction of the red-tailed phascogale (Phascogale calura), a dasyurid marsupial, should be one of them. Phascogales are easily managed in captivity, and there are now multiple studies involving their development, reproduction, nutrition, behavior and immune system, which can serve as a baseline for future studies. The addition of the phascogale as a model species will improve future mammalian studies by introducing variability and offer alternate solutions to biological problems, particularly in the areas of genetics, nutrition, immunology, the neuro-endocrine system, and ageing, due to their semelparous reproductive strategy and hence, subsequent predictive physiology. In this review, we provide information based on existing research on red-tailed phascogales to support their inclusion as a model species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-227
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology
Issue number2
Early online date31 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2021


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