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Long-nosed bandicoots

Long-nosed bandicoot

What are long-nosed bandicoots?

Long-nosed bandicoots are a type of nocturnal ground-dwelling marsupial about the size of a rabbit. They are one of 11 species of bandicoot. The scientific name of the long-nosed bandicoot is Perameles nasuta.

As suggested by their name, long-nosed bandicoots are known for their long snout. They also have pointed ears, a short tail, dark grey-brown fur and a white underbelly. When fully grown, they range in size from 31 to 43 centimetres long, and weigh up to 1.5 kilograms.

Because they are nocturnal, it may be difficult to spot a long-nosed bandicoot on a bushwalk. However, you may spot the small, round conical holes they leave in the ground when foraging at night!

Where do long-nosed bandicoots live?

Long-nosed bandicoots are found across eastern Australia, in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

They live in a range of habitat types including eucalypt forests, woodlands, grasslands and rainforests. In suburban areas, they can be seen in gardens!

During the daytime, long-nosed bandicoots sleep in nests on the ground made from grasses and other plant material.

Long-nosed bandicoots prefer ‘mosaic’ habitats, which have a combination of open grassy areas where they forage in at night, and sheltered areas where they nest in during the day.

What do long-nosed bandicoots eat?

Long-nosed bandicoots are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals.

The long-nosed bandicoot diet consists of insects, earthworms, insect larvae, spiders, plant tubers and fungi. 

Bandicoots like to feed in areas with loose soils as they forage for food items by digging small narrow holes in the ground.

What role do long-nosed bandicoots play in the ecosystem?

Long-nosed bandicoots play an important role in their habitat as ‘bioturbators’. As the bandicoots dig in the ground for food, they help turn over and aerate the soils, benefiting the plants that grow in them.

Long-nosed bandicoots are an important food source for native predators including some species of owls, quolls, dingoes, and snakes.

How are long-nosed bandicoots adapted to their environment?

Long-nosed bandicoots are specialists at finding and digging up underground food. Their strong sense of smell allows them to sense and detect food below the surface. They have narrow front feet with long curving claws allowing them to dig narrow, pointed holes which they stick their long, narrow snouts into to access food at the bottom of the hole. The pouches of female bandicoots face backwards so that they don’t fill with dirt as the bandicoot digs. This helps keep any joeys inside clean and healthy.

Long-nosed bandicoots are also well adapted to avoiding predators. Their brown coloured fur helps them camouflage in the environment. Their large, mobile ears allow them to detect any predators nearby. This is especially helpful when their heads are underground feeding and therefore cannot rely on sight.

How do long-nosed bandicoots reproduce and what is their life cycle?

Long-nosed bandicoots live a mostly solitary life unless they are breeding or parenting. They breed several times a year and give birth to litters of up to five offspring.

Bandicoot young are called joeys. It only takes 11 to 13 days for a bandicoot joey to develop in the womb, one of the shortes times for any mammal! 

As a marsupial, bandicoot young continue their development in their mother’s pouch. Joeys stay in the pouch until they are three months old.

Bandicoots live up to 4 years in the wild.

What threats do long-nosed bandicoots face?

Long-nosed bandicoots used to be widespread and common in Sydney. However, their range has been significantly reduced with some local populations now extinct! Today, long-nosed bandicoots are found in isolated populations in bushland areas to the north and south of Sydney. The population that lives at North Head in Manly is classified as an endangered population. 

Introduced species are a major threat to many of these populations. Cats, foxes and dogs are predators of long-nosed bandicoots, whilst rabbits compete with long-nosed bandicoots for food. Bandicoots can also die from ‘toxoplasmosis’ infection, which is caused by a parasite found in cat faeces. Being a responsible pet owner by keeping your cats and dogs indoors at night helps protect long-nosed bandicoots.

Land clearing, urbanisation and bushfires also threaten long-nosed bandicoot populations by reducing the habitat available to them.

In more urban areas, long-nosed bandicoots are also killed by vehicle strikes.

Long-nosed bandicoot | YouTube | Field of Mars EEC (1:32 min) | Video transcript

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