Marsupials are mammals endemic in Australia and the Americas. They give birth to relatively undeveloped young that usually reside in their pouches located on their abdomens. The most known marsupials include opossums, Tasmanian devils, kangaroos, koalas, wombats, wallabies, bandicoots, and the extinct thylacine.
One of the most interesting marsupials is the bandicoot; it’s mostly a small and unique-looking animal that looks like a mix between a pig and a rat. Despite being cutesy in appearance, bandicoots are always in danger as their small size makes them easy targets for predators. Because of that, their species have been reduced to a critical level. Bandicoots are nocturnal animals, and they have developed extreme senses to hunt prey or elude their enemies at night. It is interesting how these marsupials strive for their day-to-day life combating invasive herbivores and clever predators. Check out the facts that we have laid out about this awesome animal.
What is a Bandicoot?
To put it simply, this Australia and New Guinea native is a kind of omnivorous and solitary rat that thrives during the night. Their importance to the ecosystem stems from the fact that they spread fungi spores which greatly affect plant and animal diversity, as well as the composition of forests and woodlands. Currently, their survival is being threatened by habitat loss and predators such as foxes, cats, and dogs.
- Bandicoots are a group of more than 20 species of small to medium-sized, terrestrial, nocturnal marsupial omnivores.
- The name bandicoot is an Anglicised version of a word from the Telugu language of South India which translates as pig-rat.
- People used the word bandicoot to informally refer to any peramelemorph, like the bilby.
- Bandicoots have V-shaped faces, ending with their prominent noses.
- With their well-attuned snouts and sharp claws, the bandicoot is a fossorial digger.
- They have small, fine teeth that allow them to easily chew their food.
- They are endemic to the New Guinea region of Australia, including the Bismarck Archipelago to the east and Seram and Halmahera to the west.
- Bandicoots are nocturnal.
- Bandicoots don’t live particularly long. They live around three years in the wild.
- Bandicoots are marsupials, and mothers raise their young in their pouches.
- The bandicoots take the shortest time for any mammal to gestate. They are usually born after around 12 days.
- Bandicoots, kangaroos, wallabies, and possums have two toes fused together.
- A bandicoot bounds around using its powerful hind legs.
- They reach maturity quickly.
- Bandicoots are omnivores, which means they eat meat and plants.
- The rabbit-eared bandicoots, better known as bilbies, are species of Macrotis. The greater bilby is the largest of all bandicoots.
- Some species of bandicoots are considered to be endangered or critically endangered.
- The long-nosed bandicoot, the short-nosed bandicoot, and the bilby are the most well-known types of bandicoots.
- The long-nosed bandicoot would leave some small, round, and conical holes when it forages at night.
- Bandicoots are rather solitary animals and usually only get together to have babies.
Every day is survival for them.
Predators like hunting them because of their small size. To increase their chances of escape, they often live within thick vegetation in forests, swamps, thickets, and dense grasslands. This way, they can take advantage of the terrain and the cover-up from the vegetation.
These small animals are highly territorial.
Males defend an area of approximately 17 acres or 7 hectares. When defending their territory, males stand on their hind legs and scratch at each other. Both males and females live solitary lives, only interacting with others for mating. They are also strictly terrestrial, which means they live on the ground, never in trees.
They can detect prey that is hiding underground.
The bandicoot’s keen sense of smell and hearing means it can detect prey underground, which it quickly digs up with its strong front paws and a pointy snout. As nocturnal animals, their senses are highly sensitive not only for foraging food but also for keeping a lookout for predators.
Why is the desert bandicoot extinct?
They have a unique pouch.
Unlike other marsupials, the pouch opens backward. This helps keep dirt from getting into the pouch with the babies. Their babies are called joeys, and they only measure 0.5 inches long when they are born.
Their poop is different from rat poop.
Bandicoots might look a bit like introduced rats, but their poop is nothing like a rat’s poop. They eat a lot of insects, so their poop is full of indigestible parts like beetle casings, as well as bits of grass and dirt. The pellets are 25 to 50mm long with a smooth, muddy surface.
Out of eight species, only one has remained.
The southern brown bandicoot is now the only remaining species of bandicoots that can be found in South Australia. It is also sad to know that they are also considered an endangered species.
Bandicoots don’t usually bite.
Bandicoots don’t usually bite but use their hind legs when fighting other bandicoots. It is advisable to be aware of its back legs because of its sharp claws and powerful kicks. They are sometimes unpredictable and can lash out quickly with their hind legs.
Keeping them as pets is a no-no.
Since they are considered endangered, it is illegal to trap or kill them. There are legislations on keeping captive-born bandicoots as pets that vary between states, however, their particularly nocturnal and shy nature doesn’t make it exciting to keep them as pets.
A mutated bandicoot is the protagonist in a popular video game franchise.
Crash Bandicoot is a mutant bandicoot who leads a quiet life on the Wumpa Islands. But he is often interrupted by Doctor Neo Cortex. Crash must defeat Cortex and foil his plans for world domination. It is a video game franchise originally developed as an exclusive for Sony’s PlayStation console.