We didn't really think about the possible downside of building 8 new super strong, double-walled Phascogale-friendly nest boxes!
The downside is about 3 meters from the top of a ladder as someone attempts to attach two kilos of plush accommodation to a tree. Extra care (and a hard-hat) was required when we installed them.
The new nest boxes are even carpeted! But only on the ceiling and purely as a way to deter invading bees who find carpet difficult to attach their honeycomb.
The Fauna Committee has been monitoring our existing 20 or so nest boxes for over a year now, but although we have observed Phascogales, caught them on camera and know they nest in people's roofs, they don't seem to make use of our existing boxes. There may be other reasons for this of course, their numbers, their range, existing natural hollows. But we wanted to investigate if the accommodation could be more appealing. After much investigation, we settled on a design from the Gould League. This design calls for thicker, more insulating walls (thicker walls = warmer Phascogales). Ewen, Richard and Pierre then went about purchasing the wood, cut it to size, put the boxes together and painted them.
We considered ways of excluding Sugar Gliders - which are our usual nest box residents, but consensus suggests that there is no entrance hole size that would allow one but prevent the other. However, Trish, a Friend of the Co-op, who did her PhD on Phascogales and set up over 30 nest boxes in her study, advised that if a Sugar Glider and a Phascogale were vying for the same box and push came to shove, a Phascogale would probably push harder. Placing groups of three boxes in close proximity to each other is also a preferred option to provide accommodation for both.
Let's hope the Phascogales approve of their new accommodation!