Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Maximising nutritional status in captive marsupials (#74)

Hayley J Stannard 1 , Bronwyn McAllan 1 , David Raubenheimer 1
  1. University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

For marsupials there is a lack of detailed data on their nutritional needs. Nutrition is fundamental to health status, and inadequate nutrition can lead to deficiencies, poor health and poor reproductive output. Macronutrient composition plays a role in food intake of carnivores, in the wild and in captivity. Research has shown species such as dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) target for high lipid diets, while cats (Felis catus) and mink (Neovison vison) target for high protein and moderate lipid diets (one a percent energy basis). The largest extant Australian marsupial carnivore, the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) and one of the smallest, the fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata) have been studied to determine their macronutrient preferences. Preliminary analysis has shown devils prefer protein while dunnarts prefer lipid. Their choices can be related to their dietary preferences and physiological/behavioural processes.