Western barred bandicoot (Perameles bougainville)
|Also known as:||barred bandicoot, long-nosed bandicoot, marl|
|French:||Bandicoot De Bougainville, Péramèle À Bandes De L´ouest|
|Spanish:||Tejón Marsupial Rayado|
|Size||Total length: 28 cm (2)|
Length at birth: 1 cm (6)
Weight at birth: 0.25 g (6)
|Weight||190 - 250 g (3)|
The western barred bandicoot is classified as Endangered (EN B1 + 3a) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1), and is listed on Appendix I of CITES (4).
This small marsupial has light brown-grey fur fading to white fur on the belly, as well as on the feet. It gained its common name as a result of two or three bars of alternating paler and darker bars across the hindquarters. As with all bandicoots, the ears are large and the snout is long and pointed (5). The tail is also long, making up almost a third of the total length of the western barred bandicoot (2). The pouch faces backwards as this prevents dirt from entering when this bandicoot is digging (3).
Having inhabited much of southern and western Australia, the western barred bandicoot has now lost most of its previous range, and is restricted to just Bernier and Dorre Islands off the western coast of Australia. The species was thought to have gone extinct, but the populations of these two islands were discovered in the 1970s (3).
In its former range, the western barred bandicoot occupied semi-arid and arid areas on plains and sand ridges with woodlands, as well as open bush plains, dense scrub and heathland. Now, the preferred habitat appears to be sand hills, grasslands and scrublands (3).
Primarily a solitary species, the western barred bandicoot tends to occupy a nest alone. The nest is constructed in a scrape and is lined with leaves (5). The entrance is concealed from predators and this nocturnal animal will spend the day sleeping in it (3). Usually individuals will fight when they encounter others, but occasionally two bandicoots are seen to nest together (2). Mating occurs in autumn and winter and just 12 days later a litter of between one and three tiny young is born (3). This is one of the shortest gestation periods of any mammal. Western barred bandicoots will breed opportunistically at other times of year if conditions are suitable. The young remain in the pouch to suckle and develop further for 45 – 60 days, and by 80 days they disperse (6).
This species is omnivorous and will find insects, seeds, roots, herbs and small invertebrates by digging (3).
The massive decline suffered by this species is mainly a result of predation by introduced foxes and feral cats, as well as competition from introduced livestock and rabbits. Habitat clearance and human influence over fire regimes has also contributed (1) (3).
The Department of Conservation and Land Management, in collaboration with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Australia are working to study this species and have undertaken captive breeding programs and begin a re-introduction program in an area of the mainland where introduced predators have been drastically reduced under an eradication program. More introductions are planned, dependent on continued progress in predator eradication (2) (6).
For further information on this species see Animal Info:
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- Marsupial: a diverse group of mammals characterised by their reproduction. The embryo is born 11-35 days after conception. The tiny neonate crawls into the marsupium (pouch) and attaches to a teat where it stays for a variable amount of time. They also differ from placental mammals in their dentition.
- Nocturnal: active at night.
- Omnivore: an organism that feeds on both plants and animals.
IUCN Red List (December, 2009)