Long nosed bandicoots look like a cross between a small kangaroo and a shrew. These insect eating marsupials are found only in Australia and Tasmania. Long nosed bandicoots are odd looking members of the marsupial family. They have a trunk like snout, powerful hind legs, and a pouch that opens to the rear. They feed at night, darting quickly here and there to avoid detection by their predators.
Habitat: The four species of long nosed bandicoot inhabit open plains, cleared grassland, and wooded areas along the coasts of Australia and in Tasmania. They also live in undergrowth and even in drainpipes near towns. Both the males and the females have home ranges. The males range is larger than the females ,and he often has to defend it from invading males, sometimes fighting with teeth and claws. Long nosed bandicoots are active mainly at night and sleep most of the day in a nest. They build their nests from grasses or sticks in a sheltered spot on the ground. Bandicoots hunt and feed at night. They have good hearing and excellent night vision. Using their powerful hind legs, bandicoots run with sudden bursts of speed and charge direction quickly to outmaneuver predators.
Food and Feeding: Long nosed bandicoots eat mostly insects and larvae. They use their powerful claws to dig prey out of the ground and their long snouts to root prey out of crevices. Usually they find insects in the top four inches of soil. After a nightly forage, the area may be dotted with shallow holes. Besides insects, long nosed bandicoots dig and eat roots and tubers. They also kill small rodents such as mice. After catching an animal, a bandicoot rapidly kneads it into a pulp with its forefeet before eating it. Having caught an insect, a bandicoot crushes it with small, needle sharp teeth.
Breeding: Bandicoots are solitary animals and come together only to mate. They can breed at any time of the year. During his nightly forages for food, the male searches for females that are ready to mate. The gestation period is about 12 days. Newborns crawl into the mother’s pouch and remain attached to her by a placental cord that nourishes them from her uterus. Long nosed bandicoots’ pouches open backward, unlike kangaroos’, which open to the front. The young stay in the pouch for about seven weeks. After another week, they are weaned and leave.
Enemies: Bandicoots are prey to many predators, including dingoes, snakes, and foxes. The Aborigines hunt them for food, and farmers and garners often kill them because they damage crops and gardens as they dig for insects. Even though bandicoots have a high rate of reproduction, many species are threatened with extinction and some are already extinct. The main threat comes from humans, who have destroyed bandicoots’ habitats through cultivation. Another problem is the introduction of rabbits, whose grazing pattern alters the land and renders it unsuitable for bandicoots.
Length: Head and body, 8-17 in. Tail, 3 ½-7in.
Weight: About 6 ½ lb. Male larger than female
Sexual maturity: Possibly 3 months but usually later
Mating season: Any month
Gestation: About 12 days
No. of young: 1-7, usually 2-4
Habit: Solitary; feeds at night
Diet: Mainly insects and grubs but also roots, tubers, and small mammals
Lifespan: Not known exactly but probably 3-5 years
Related Species: There are 19 bandicoot
species in 8 genera. The family Peramelidae has 7 genera.
Distribution: Found in an isolated area in central Australia and around the Australian coast. Also found throughout Tasmania.
Conservation: Long nosed bandicoots are protected by law in Australia. They are not as endangered as many of the other bandicoot species.
Features of Long Nosed Bandicoots:
Coat: Sleek, coarse hairs, generally a light grayish brown. They lack the darker stripes on the back and rump of all the other bandicoot species in the family.
Nose: Long and slender, tapering to a point. Adapted for rooting in soil, rotting wood, or crevices.
Limbs: Hind legs are longer and stronger than forelegs and carry most of the weight. Long, sharp toes are adapted for digging.
Pouch: Opens to the rear to protect the young from soil when the mother is digging. It contains 8 teats from which the young feed.
Did You Know:
The name bandicoot derives from a word in an Indian dialect meaning “pig rat.” It was originally applied to a rodent of the genus Bandicota found in India and Sri Lanka.
Long nosed bandicoots are among the few bandicoots that make a noise. They emit a high pitched call if disturbed.
Bandicoot species range in size from one foot to more than two feet long.
Bandicoots have the highest rate of reproduction among marsupials.