ABOUT US

Located on 600 acres in the picturesque Hindmarsh Valley, South Australia, (near Victor Harbor) Softfoot is a breeding facility for rare and endangered marsupials and is also a stud breeder of a herd of over 1000 world class environment friendly alpacas.

The Retallick family, the founders of Softfoot, have endeavoured to improve their lands in an eco-friendly manner by:-

Extensive native tree and shrub planting 50,000 plus to absorb many tons of CO2 and to encourage the return of native species to the property.

The construction of a Murray-Darling based wetland ecosystem that provides habitat for rescued long neck tortoises and endangered fresh water fish species the Purple spotted gudgeon (Mogurnda adspersa) and Climbing galaxias (Mogurnda adspersa). Many species of water bird now inhabit this lake including pelicans, black swans and many more.

Being involved in rescue and breed for wild release, highly endangered marsupials only. The creation of 3 fully fenced feral proof Sanctuaries and an enclosed intensive breeding facility built to very high standard.

Selecting a farm animal suitable for this fragile soil surface and soft footed alpacas were the answer (toes - not hooves).

THE SANCTUARIES

There are four wildlife sanctuary sections – each are fully feral proof fenced and this fencing is designed to stand for at least one hundred years.

Bruce Jackson of Warrawong Sanctuary and Earth Sanctuaries was an expert consultant on the construction of 15 acre Sanctuary One.

Eight additional enclosures are currently being constructed to increase the capacity of the Intensive Breeding facility.

Running Creek Sanctuary

OUR AIMS

Softfoot Sanctuary is a well-resourced facility that is focussed on the long-term conservation of endangered Australian Fauna. This is a ‘not for profit’ programme, and it isn’t reliant on funds from visitors or grants.

The guiding principle is not ‘ownership’ of animals. We are positioned to and prepared for being caretakers of these species.

Softfoot Sanctuary aims to:

  • Maintain ‘Insurance Populations’ of vulnerable, endangered and threatened mammals in predator-proof enclosures.
  • Breed species with the diverse genetics as can be sourced, using DNA profiling technology to inform and monitor.
  • Assist with breeding species for re-wilding, in association with other sanctuaries and organisations.



OUR MARSUPIALS

Spotted-tailed Quoll - Dasyurus maculatus

The spotted tail quoll is very attractive with its colour of rich brown orange fur dotted with white spots. Adult quolls weigh from 1.6 to 4 kg’s for females and as much as 7kg’s for males.

A female produces a single litter of an average of five pups per year. As carnivores, the spotted tail quoll feeds on medium size mammals, possums, rabbits, small invertebrates, birds, bird eggs and carrion. Softfoot feeds the quolls a varied diet of protein consisting of non-live whole chickens, pigeons, farm meat and chicken eggs, offal and carnivore powder.

The Quolls are intriguing to observe as they have differing personalities. Our staff shift the quolls to a new captive location every few weeks ensuring sensory stimulation afforded by exploration of the new smells and complex habitats.

Their conservation status is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ as it is believed that the populations on mainland are too fragmented and small for them to survive extinction. Our breeding programme utilizes D.N.A. testing to ensure genetic diversity of the quolls in our breeding programme. Our aim is to breed an insurance population until such time as habitat loss and predator issues can be resolved.

At Softfoot we appreciate the opportunity to care for such unique animals.

Southern Brown Bandicoots – Short nosed Bandicoot Isoodon obesulus obesulus

This bandicoot is a small animal with a maximum weight of 1.2 kgs. They live up to three years of age and produce two to three litters annually from winter to summer, with a maximum of three joeys but their young unfortunately, have a high mortality rate. The Southern Brown bandicoot is a small mammal and has a unique back opening pouch to prevent dirt diggings entering.

They are also unique in the mammal world for having the shortest gestation of all mammals, being only 11 to 12 days duration. The Virginia opossum is known worldwide as the shortest gestation at 12 to 13 days but this is incorrect. Joeys are weaned at 60 days.

Being omnivores, their diet consists of insects such as earthworms, and underground fruiting bodies such as fungus, roots and tubers. Here at Softfoot we enjoy watching these interesting little creatures that take short bunny like hops as they search for food.

Conservation status is variously listed as endangered and threatened in states of Australia. The Southern Brown Bandicoot has declined to levels of great concern in NSW, VIC and SA and are at threat of extinction.

Woylie – Brush Tailed bettong – Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi

Woylies are a brown colour with a brushy tail and they grow to a maximum weight of 1850g. They live in simply constructed nests on the ground in thick ground cover and their diet consists largely of fungi, seeds and bulbs with no green plant matter. The environment has traditionally benefited from the Woylie’s seed dispersal and diggings. The turnover of soil provides the benefits for the environment by creating pathways for nutrients and water to penetrate down into the soil. Female Woylies breed at 6 months of age three times a year bearing a single joey that lives in the pouch for 90 days.

From once being one of the most prolific of animals in Australia, the Woylie is now critically endangered and interestingly, Wikipedia lists Bettongia pencillata as extinct. Small numbers of Woylies remain in captive management programmes and reserves.

Softfoot is planning to use D.N.A to source woylies from these fragmented populations and breed a population with viable genetic diversity to ensure survival of the species. It is wonderful to watch these very active bettongs zoom back and forward and sometimes we are lucky enough to see them carrying grass and sticks curled up in their tails to build their nests.

Squirrel Gliders - Petaurus norfolcensis

Squirrel Gliders are a wondrous sight as they glide between forest trees. The distances they glide are 50 metres on the flat and up to a 100 metres down an incline. They steer as they glide by angling the curve of the left or right membranes of stretchy skin that extends on both sides between their back and front limbs as they glide. On approaching to land, Squirrel Gliders bring their hind legs closer to their body, make an upward swoop and land on all fours.

The Squirrel glider is listed as vulnerable in N.S.W. threatened in Victoria and endangered in South Australia. Actual numbers in South East Australia are unknown as sightings are extremely rare. There are many threats such as loss of habitat, feral cat predation and landing on barbed wire fences. There lifespan is generally of four to six years duration. Breeding takes place around August each year with one to two young that live in the pouch for 70 days in pouch and leave the nest at 4 months of age. Their maximum weight is approximately 250 gms gms and a maximum length from head to tail is approximately 50 cm’s.

To prevent predator awareness of their nesting sites, squirrel gliders move home frequently and hollow logs in trees are of particular importance for nesting. Softfoot Sanctuary provides multiple nesting boxes and fresh nesting material is always made available for them to reline their living areas. A unique behaviour of the glider is the mechanism they employ to conserve energy in the winter time. They enter into a torpor, a physiological condition not unlike hibernation that prevents them from expending valuable energy to forage for food that may exceed their food intake. As omnivores, their diet consists of acacia gum and sap, pollen, nectar, insects, fruit and birds eggs.

The squirrel gliders are such endearing creatures that never cease to put a smile on everyone’s face here at the sanctuary. It is a very special experience to see them as they glide and scurry throughout their habitat.

The Long Nosed Potoroo – Potorous tridactylus

The long-nosed potoroo (species potorous tridactylus) is a small marsupial and a part of the rat-kangaroo family. They live on average for 5 to 6 years and produce a single young after a 38 day gestation, once to twice a year. They live solitary lives and breed with multiple partners.

The potoroo is nocturnal and during the day shelters in under storey vegetation. Our long-nosed potoroos emerge much earlier at night than any of the other macropods. They are fascinating little creatures to observe as they mind their own business, foraging intently, in a world of their own. They use curved claws on their front feet to dig up food. Being omnivores, their diet consists of underground fungi, roots, fruit, seeds, flowers, insects and insect larvae. Their conservation status is classified as vulnerable due to habitat loss and predation by cats and foxes.

Sugar Gliders - Petaurus breviceps

Sugar Gliders are about half the size of Squirrel Gliders, body 16 cm, tail 21 cm and weigh an average 120 gms. As omnivores, their diet consists of acacia gum and sap, pollen, nectar, insects, fruit, bird chicks and birds eggs. Approximately 3 out of 10 Sugar Gliders have attractive white tipped tails. Characteristics of the Sugar’s as observed by us is being more vocal and confrontational than the Squirrel Gliders when disturbed and in their interactions. They are very sociable creatures however and can live in nest boxes up to seven in a group of both adults and young. They enter a hibernation like state in winter to conserve energy. They breed two young per year in June to July and are independent at 7 to 10 months of age.

Their conservation status is listed as ‘of least concern’ Nationally but near threatened in the habitat of south eastern South Australia. Current figures are unavailable to confirm their existence, numbers or status in S.A.

On a different note, it is very amusing to see Softfoot Sanctuary keepers jump away quickly sometimes as they check nest boxes. This reaction is due to the glider’s quite intimidating, loud chatter that is very surprising from such tiny creatures.

Tammar Wallabies - Macropus eugenii

Conservation status of the Tammar wallaby was considered extinct by the 1920’s due to fox predation and habitat clearance. An exported population in the 1800’s population to Kawau Island New Zealand was subsequently discovered and reintroduced in Western Australia and some offshore islands such as Kangaroo Island S.A.

This very attractive compact macropod has a short, sleek, greyish brown salt and pepper coat and white belly. A dark stripe runs from crown to nose and they have a pale cheek stripe and russet tinge on fore limbs, hind limbs and side. Their height reaches a maximum of 500 ml and reaches a maximum of 9 kg’s. The diet of the Tammar diet consists of sedges, grasses, herbs and woody plants and they only feed at night.

The Tammars live in social groups of females and young. Their life span is from 11 to 14 years of age and they are strictly seasonal breeders producing one joey per year. The embryo develops in nearly February but sleeps until the longest day of the year, about 22nd December without growing. It then attaches to uterus wall and 40 days later crawls into the pouch where it stays for 8 to 9 months. Due to their embryonic diapause ability to suspend reproduction in poor times such as drought, the Tammar Wallaby is the most thoroughly studied marsupial in the world. An unusual characteristic of the Tammar is their ability to drink sea water as observed on Western Australia islands.

Softfoot Sanctuary enjoys caring for Tammar wallabies and their tiny joeys have to be the cutest joeys of them all.

Red bellied Pademelon- Thylogale billardierii

The Red Bellied Pademelon lives for up to 6 years and can weigh up to 9kgs. Their diet consists of grass, leaves and fruit. Breeding can occur throughout the year but mainly birth around the winter season. Their joey stays in the pouch until they are weaned at 7 to 8 months of age.

Red bellied Pademelons are extinct on mainland Australia because of predation by foxes and large scale land clearance. Tasmania has a thriving population of Pademelons on the island.

The Pademelons former populations in the coastal regions of Victoria and South Australia disappeared in the early 1900’s due to land clearing and fox predation.

Unique behaviour of this species is the establishment of runways that they make through areas of vegetation. They use a warning system of thumping the ground sharply and forcefully with hind feet to warn of danger and make a gravelly sounding hiss to scare off intruders. When courting females the males make a clucking type of sound. Pademelons generally stay alone but occasionally congregate in groups when feeding. They have shorter legs and tails than other species such as wallabies and kangaroos and this combined with their thick, attractive fur colour makes for an interesting inhabitant of Softfoot Sanctuary.

Rufous Bettongs – rat kangaroo - Aepyrmnus rufescens

The Rufous Bettong is a grey colour and grow to about 40 cm high, weigh up to 3 kg’s and can live up to six years of age. Their diet consists of mainly roots and tubers but will eat a wide variety of other foods if available. Food such as invertebrates, seeds, grass and flowers will also be eaten if available. They create nests in shallow depressions and have several that they use as safe houses to flee to when disturbed. Plant material is collected in their tails for nest making.

Their young live in the mother’s pouch for four months and they can produce 3 joeys a year. We have observed that the Rufous bettong has a high success rate of raising their young and produces more young than other macropods in our care. Male bettongs tend to favour a particular female and hang-out with her and sometimes forage for food together prior to mating but can consort with other females occasionally.

The Rufous was listed as extinct in Victoria in 2003 but is not at imminent risk of extinction as it exists in various locations across Australia and is listed as of least concern by IUCN.

The Rufous bettongs are a favourite species as they stand on their back feet, holding their front feet together and look very cute with their grey fur and little pink noses. They are also quite vocal as they defend their food and personal space, more so than any other macropod.

WORK WITH US

The successful ongoing protection, care and recovery of our native species requires collaboration on every level – community, business, government, not-for-profit and tertiary institutions.

We are always interested in working together and building partnerships with any organisation involved in the threatened species recovery programs – whether it be research or on-the-ground work. Talk to us about how we can work together for greater gain.

We are also interested in talking with private breeders on threatened marsupials that would like to exchange genetics.

We also offer consulting and advice to those wishing to set up their own private sanctuary.



TOURS AND EVENTS

In 2017, we will begin offering exclusive private tours of Softfoot Marsupial Sanctuary.

These tours will be limited numbers and various package options will be available.

Until then, if you are interested in a private tour of Softfoot Sanctuary - contact us for more information.



Contact Us

Softfoot Sanctuary

Hindmarsh Valley

South Australia

Ph +61 409 585 801

Email us

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