The Western Barred Bandicoot
Photo Credit: Babs Wells / gettyimages.com
Like many of the unusual animals in Australia, the bandicoot is a marsupial, which means it has a pouch. However, the bandicoot’s pouch faces backwards. Yes, that is strange, but there’s a good reason for it. Bandicoots are burrowers. They dig and live in holes in the ground, where they build a nest. So, if they were building their nest and their pouch opening faced up, they would get all kinds of dirt and rocks in their pouch. Mama bandicoot does not want her babies dirty. Mother Nature has therefore provided her with a solution—a backwards pouch. Incredible, isn’t it!
Bandicoots are small (only about four pounds), and they have light brown-grey fur. Three bars of fur alternating paler and darker in color, on their hindquarters, have given them their name. All bandicoots have pointy snouts and large ears. The tail is very long, making up approximately one-third of its total length.
They are nocturnal creatures, spending most of the daytime sleeping in their nests. They will meet up with another bandicoot for mating, and they have one of the shortest gestation periods of all mammals, just twelve days. The babes stay in their mother’s pouch to develop for forty-five to sixty days, and after that time, they simply go their own way.
Bandicoots are omnivorous. This means that they will eat just about anything, including insects, roots, herbs, and small invertebrates they may find while digging.
At one time, they inhabited much of southern and western Australia. Now, they have lost most of that range. They were actually thought to have been extinct. The decline in numbers is due mostly to predation from fox and feral cats, which were introduced to, but are not native to Australia.
Combined with human encroachment, the Western Barred Bandicoot’s populations continued to decline, and they are now considered endangered. You can see the two tiny spots on the map where this marsupial now lives.
There are a number of conservation programs in place, and efforts are being made both to study and re-introduce bandicoots back to their previous mainland areas. Knowing how dedicated the Australian people are to preserving their unique wildlife, I am certain that they will succeed.
If you would like to explore and learn more about this Australian creature, click on the following links:
I have also added a link to a video for you. Although the young lady in this video is discussing the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, the information is very similar to the Western Barred Bandicoot as the Eastern species is endangered as well, and also looks very much like the Western species.
I do hope that you enjoyed reading about this unusual marsupial!
Please return again, and feel free to leave a comment.
Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!