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Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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Additional Bandicoot Information

Australian Bandicoots: Order Peramelemorphia

Features:

  • They are solitary, strictly terrestrial, and all have quite long pointed heads and compact bodies.
  • The forelimbs are generally short and the hindlimbs resemble those of macropods.
  • They have a powerful thigh, an elongated foot, and its axis is continued into a large clawed fourth toe.
  • As in macropods, the second and third toes are joined together in a condition known as syndactyly.
  • They have a short tail with little or no function in locomotion.
  • Bandicoots are about 50cm overall. They have brown fur above and creamy white fur on the belly.
  • Their long jaws accommodate 4 to 5 pairs of upper incisors and 3 pairs of lower incisors. They also have a pair of well-developed canines, followed by 3 pairs of upper and lower premolars and 4 pairs of sharp-crowned upper and lower molars.
  • Bandicoots are often mistaken for rats, but actually  more closely resemble rabbits. They are about the size of rabbits, they hop like rabbits and they breed even faster than rabbits.

Feeding:

  • Bandicoots are native marsupials that shelter during the day in bushland, along creek beds and in other thickly grassed areas, emerging at night to search for food.
  • Bandicoots mainly eat insects and other arthropods, supplemented by small rodents, fruit and soft tubers.
  • Using its forelimbs, it digs a conical hole that it is able to explore with its long snout when foraging for food. It does not simply dig anywhere – it uses its excellent sense of smell and hearing to locate grubs and scarab beetles for example.
  • These sorts of grubs can destroy gardens, so gardeners should acknowledge holes in lawns dug by bandicoots, although the sight of the holes may be upsetting at first.

Nesting and Breeding:

  • They make a nest of leaf litter and other debris raked up into an oval-shaped pile about 45cm long.
  • The Northern Brown Bandicoot and the Long-nosed Bandicoot (the two species found in the Wet Tropics of Queensland) share the shortest gestation recorded in mammals – 12 days from conception to birth.
  • The young are tiny and not yet completely developed when they must make their way on their own to the pouch. Recent research has shown that the young develops from a formless clump of cells to a mobile living animal in the 5 before birth.
  • Embryos of bandicoots make a connection with the uterine wall that is structurally very similar to that of a placental mammal. The placenta however does not develop into a large structure for the exchange of materials between the blood of the mother and the embryo.
  • Bandicoots usually have 8 nipples, but only carry about 4 in the pouch at a time. This is because the nipple increases in size when it is in use – if a nipple has been vacated recently, it is too large for a newborn animal to attach itself.

Threats:

  • Several species of bandicoots and bilbies have become rare or extinct since European invasion, due to the destruction of their habitat or food supply.
  • Sheep, cattle and rabbits have also caused many problems with bandicoots as they disturb the ground layer of vegetation, however along with other native marsupials (eg koalas, gliders and possums), some bandicoots have survived urbanisation to remain a surprising feature of suburban life in several areas.
  • They are now protected by law, so it is an offence to harm them. Permits to trap and remove them may be issued, but only in some special circumstances.
  • Rapid reproduction is necessary because bandicoots appear on the menu of a number of predators including pythons, dingos. goshawks and owls. (Environmental Protection Agency)

 

Additional Information:

Courtesy of Damon Ramsey

  • Bandicoots are a distinctive order of only about 11 marsupials in Australia, with an additional 8 or so species of 'Spiny' bandicoots living in the forests of New Guinea (Egerton et al 1997). In Australia's prehistoric times, bandicoots were much more varied, but they seem to have suffered from climate change, the invasion of the rodents from Asia over millions of years, and finally, the arrival of European man (Archer et al 2000). Of the eleven Australian species, three are extinct, and four or five other species have had considerable reductions in numbers and range (Egerton et al 1997).

  • The name 'bandicoot' is not a particularly apt one. It is of Indian, not Aboriginal origin, being named after large rodents found in Asia that have the common name of 'bandicoot' and the scientific name of Bandicota (Prater and Barruel 1993). They have also been compared to 'badgers', for their scientific name 'Petramele' means 'pouched badger' in Greek (Strahan and Cayley 1997).
     

  •  If conditions are good, they may breed and raise offspring every seven weeks (Egerton et al 1997).

    Script: Courtesy of  Damon Ramsey BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide

 Courtesy of Environmental Protection Agency

  • Females can produce their first litter at the age of four to five months.

  • When developing in the mother's pouch the young are attached by long umbilical cords to a rudimentary placenta within the  womb - an unusual feature in marsupials, found only in bandicoots and koalas.
     

  • The mother's pouch opens backwards. a design which prevents it from becoming filled with dirt while she is digging for food.

  • They are also a favoured host of ticks, but are apparently immune to the toxins which cause paralysis in other animals.

Script: Courtesy of Environmental Protection Agency
Additional Bandicoot Information
Additional Bandicoot Photos
Northern Brown Bandicoots of the Lamington National Park.


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Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands
Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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