Widespread Fluorescence in the Fur of Mammals of the Australian Wet Tropics

Reinhold, L. M. (2023)


The sporadic reporting of fluorescent mammal discoveries has led to the trait being considered atypical. However, this perception may be misleading considering that most mammal species have not been examined. Therefore, I made a targeted attempt to assess the scope of fur fluorescence within one bioregion, the Wet Tropics of Far North Queensland, Australia. A series of 148 fresh, old and frozen wild mammals, mostly roadkill, were examined for the presence of fluorescence in their fur. Two species of monotreme, 20 of marsupial and 22 of placental were collected. Torches of various excitation wavelengths revealed that 95% of all mammal species I was able to examine from the Australian Wet Tropics had at least a low level of fluorescence visible in the fur. Fifty per cent of the mammal species had noticeably mid-to-bright fluorescent fur: 16% had strong pink fluorescence; 43% had strong blueish or other coloured fluorescence; and 9% had both. These observations recalibrate our understanding of mammalian fluorescence to be a somewhat ubiquitous feature of fur chemistry.