Unlike most marsupials the numbat is active during the day, reflecting the behaviour patterns of termites, spending most of its active hours searching for food (2) (5). It is the only marsupial that strictly feeds on social insects, and consumes 20,000 per day, the equivalent to ten percent of its body weight (4). The numbat walks with its nose to the ground, sniffing and turning over small pieces of wood in search of shallow underground termite galleries (5). On finding a gallery it squats on its hind legs and digs rapidly with its clawed forefeet, licking up the termites with its long, thin tongue (4) (5). Some ants are also eaten, but research shows that most are predatory ants that rush in when numbats uncover a termite nest, indicating that they are lapped up accidentally with the termites, rendering its other name, the banded anteater, some-what misleading (6).
At night, numbats shelter in hollow logs that are too narrow for its predators, such as foxes, to enter. Should the numbat feel threatened, it turns its rump, which is extremely thick-skinned, to plug the hole and protect itself (4). It is a solitary animal for most of the year, occupying a home range of up to 370 acres, though in the summer before the breeding season a male will roam long distances outside its home range in search of a female (4) (5). During the cooler months, a male and a female may share the same home range, but they are rarely seen together (5). The female gives birth to four young between January and May, which attach themselves to her four nipples, as she does not have a pouch like other marsupials (5). The female does, however, have longer underbelly hairs to keep the young warm and protected (2). In July or August, the cooler months in Australia, the female deposits her young in a burrow measuring one to two metres long, leaving them to forage during the day and returning to suckle them at night. By October the young are half grown and by the summer months of December they disperse (5).