Dasyuroides byrnei

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
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Kowaris do not drink or take water; all they get is the water content in their diet.


Kowari Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Dasyuroides byrnei

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Kowari Conservation Status

Kowari Locations

Kowari Locations

Kowari Facts

Small lizards, rodents and birds
Main Prey
Small lizards
Group Behavior
  • Solitary/Colony
Fun Fact
Kowaris do not drink or take water; all they get is the water content in their diet.
Biggest Threat
Destruction of suitable habitat by human activities
Most Distinctive Feature
Long bushy tail
Distinctive Feature
Pointed muzzle
Other Name(s)
Kariri, cross-tailed marsupial rat
Gestation Period
30-36 days
Desert and semi-desert areas (in Australia)
Foxes, dingoes, and feral cats
  • Nocturnal
Favorite Food
Small lizards and birds
Common Name

Kowari Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Grey
Skin Type
1-2 years
0.15–0.31 pounds
5.3-7 inches

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The kowari does not drink or take water; all they get is the water content in their diet.  


The kowari is a species of Australian marsupial. They are small carnivorous bushy-tailed rats distinguished by their hairy tails. Kowaris are mostly found in central Australia and prefer dry lands or deserts. They are the only species in the Dasyuroides genus. Even though it is not as popular as others, the kowari is one of Australia’s most adorable animals. They are great climbers and can jump about 18 inches from the ground. Once common in the rocky desert areas around the Lake Eyre drainage basin, the kowari’s prominence is now declining, especially in the northern territory where human activities threaten their range.

Kowari Facts

  • A kowari can run at 8 miles per hour and usually run to catch its prey (mostly rodents and lizards).
  • Kowari does not drink water, which makes it easy for them to live in deserts. Whatever water content they need, they get it from their food.
  • A Kowari can jump up to 18 inches from the ground.
  • Kowaris are intelligent and social so they can be kept as pets. However, they must be handled carefully because their bites can be dangerous and painful.
  • This marsupial produces a scent from a gland in its chest. They use this to mark their territories. They may also use urine and feces to mark their territories.  

Kowari Species, Types, and Scientific Name

The kowari is also known by the Australian native name “Kariri.” The marsupial also goes by other English names such as bushy-tailed marsupial rat, brush-tailed marsupial rat, Bryne’s crest-tailed marsupial rat, and Layer rat.  Its scientific name is Dasyuroides byrnei. Dasyurid is the marsupial mice family, which includes over 60 species.

The kowari is the only species in its genus. It is similar to the mulgaras, a rat-sized animal in the genus Dasycercus. However, the kowari’s bushy tail makes it easy to distinguish it from the mulgaras.

Kowari Appearance and Size


A Kowari can jump up to 18 inches from the ground.

A kowari and many other marsupial rats look similar to a typical rat except for a few distinguishing features. They have a small, thick, brush-like tail with the tail end having full black hairs around the area. Their body color is usually ash, but they have pink ears and snouts.

Kowari has large upright ears, pale eye-rings, and a pointed muzzle. Their feet are a lighter shade than the rest of the body, and they have unequal toes. They have four toes on their forefeet and five on their hind feet. There are dark bands around their eyes.  

Kowaris exhibit sexual dimorphism. Males are usually slightly larger than females in length and weight. There’s a length difference of at least two inches and a 0.35 ounces weight difference between the males and females. The average weight of this marsupial is about 0.15l–0.31 pounds. Their average body length is 5.3–7 inches. Kowari’s tail is almost as long as its body, measuring approximately 4.33 to 6.3 inches.

Habitat: Where To Find Kowaris

Kowariis are found in the desert areas around the Lake Eyre drainage basin. They mostly live in arid or semi-arid deserts but may also be found in dry grasslands and savannas. They are also found in the gibber plains, characterized by rocks and small stones. The gibber plains are usually along mounds, rivers, and dunes.

Kowaris do not migrate regardless of the weather conditions; rather, they burrow into the lands and aestivate until the weather becomes favorable again. They also stay in their burrows during the day and sometimes stay near the entrance to bask. They prefer flat rocks and areas with few shrubs for their feeding.

Kowari Diet

Kowaris are carnivorous animals that feed on small lizards, rodents (such as long-haired rats & house mice, and birds. They are voracious predators preying on any small or similarly-sized animals they can find. The kowari would often hide among grass tussocks and hunt unsuspecting prey by attacking with a strong bite to the head or other vital points. They can be found feeding on different birds’ eggs in certain situations. They also feed on insects and spiders.

Kowari Predators and Threats

As voracious as kowaris are, they can also be preyed upon by bigger carnivores such as foxes, dingoes, and feral cats. When in danger, the kowari attacks the predator by biting or scratching them hard. Their sharp incisors are strong enough to impact the opponent’s body. The kowari also runs and hides in their holes and burrows when in danger.  

However, a major threat to this animal is human activities which are currently causing a loss of their regular habitats. Most of the areas previously occupied by this animal are now used as a pastoral range for cattle. This loss of habitat is also affecting the kowari’s food source, making it difficult for the marsupial to find prey.

Other human factors that threaten them include the use of insecticides, especially if they are living near residential areas. Road construction in deserts and forests is also contributing to habitat loss.

Kowari Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Kowaris are mammals, and they are monogamous, meaning they keep only one mate throughout their lives. They attain sexual maturity when they are 10-11 months, then wait till they meet a partner. They undergo a mating period of a day to three days. Their breeding period is between May to December, and the female can produce up to six pouches of young at once.

They have three to seven offspring, which are called pups. The pups are usually born blind or deaf. Their gestation period is between 30 and 36 days. Since they’re marsupials, the offspring are attached to the teat in a pouch for 50 to 60 days. After weaning, they live independently.

Kowaris have an average lifespan of a year or two, though some live longer in their natural habitat or captivity.


There are about 5000 Kowaris in the world at present, but the numbers are slowly declining, which is why the animals are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN. The cause of this vulnerability is climate change and habitat destruction.

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Kowari FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Why is the kowari endangered?

The kowari is endangered because of the destruction of their habitats by human activities. Predation by foxes and feral cats is also a factor causing a decline in the species.


Is kowari extinct?

According to the IUCN Red list and the Australian Federal EPBC act, kowari is not extinct. They are, however, currently listed as vulnerable species. This marsupial used to be quite abundant in Australia’s Northern Territory but is now extinct in this area. You may still find them in the country’s southern region, but they are also vulnerable in these parts.



How do kowaris communicate?

Kowaris are intelligent animals that communicate with their body language and vocalizations. When in danger, they make a screeching sound or hiss. They often use scents to mark their territories.



Are kowaris carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?

The kowari is a carnivorous animal. The marsupial attacks and kills rodents, birds, and reptiles. It may also feed on insects and bird eggs occasionally. They have a bite strong enough to kill animals smaller or around the same size.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.


  1. Wikipedia / Accessed October 17, 2022
  2. Animalia / Accessed October 17, 2022
  3. Australian Wildlife Conservancy / Accessed October 17, 2022