Project Numbat donated $6000 to Perth Zoo in June 2011 to part-fund a study into the reproductive cycles of the Zoo’s female Numbats. Perth Zoo breeds Numbats for release into the wild and is hoping to increase the number of Numbats born each year through the research findings.
Numbat faecal samples were collected for a year and are now being analysed by Perth Zoo Research Fellow Lindsay Hogan to determine when a female Numbat is at her peak breeding cycle, how long the cycle lasts and how many she has each season. This is the first time the Numbat’s reproductive cycle has been mapped hormonally.
Numbats breed in summer and have a short oestrus cycle (about 2–3 weeks) and a small window when they are receptive to successful mating (about 48 hours). Once the females’ reproductive cycles have been mapped, keepers can take a small urine sample at the start of the breeding season, determine if the female is following normal cycles and match their cycles with mating behaviour the keepers see. It will also let keepers know if an animal is infertile.
We are eagerly awaiting the results.