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Australia's native rodents are the most ecologically diverse family of living Australian mammals. There are about 70 species - all within the sub-family Murinae - representing around 25 per cent of all species of Australian mammals. They range in size from the Delicate Mouse, weighing around six grams, to the large Water Rat, weighing around a kilogram. Unlike our 'home-grown' marsupials and monotremes which have an ancient southern origin, Australia's native rodents entered from the north, with their first ancestors arriving about five million years ago. Since that time they have radiated to fill many ecological niches throughout the country. Greatest species diversity occurred in the northern savannah and arid zone, with the few rainforest species having evolved in New Guinea.
This book details the diversity, evolution and ecology of this much-neglected group of animals, and describes their range of reproductive strategies and dietary adaptations. The book includes a chapter on rodent diseases, the impact of human settlement, and the efforts that are being made to conserve key species.