Bandicoot, Eastern Barred

Perameles gunnii

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot is a small marsupial weighing around 640grams. It has a slender, elongated head tapering to a pink nose and well-whiskered muzzle. The ears are large and prominent. Its soft fur is greyish brown with lighter coloured bars on the hindquarters which give the species its name. The belly, feet and short, thin tail are creamy white.

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Breeding

In Tasmania, young are born between late May and December. During a single breeding season, a female may produce 3-4 litters with a litter size of 1-4 young. This means a female bandicoot can potentially give birth to as many as 16 young in one year. Young may share the nest with their mother for a week after they first leave the pouch. Their life-span is less than 3 years.

Behaviour

Wild Eastern Barred Bandicoots demonstrate very little social behaviour, use mutual avoidance and feed separately, although they will occasionally chase each other and make snorting noises. They do not have fixed home nests but will make a nest in a shallow depression in the soil about 10cm deep under thick shrubbery or in the grass that covers a lined shallow depression. They will also sometimes use rabbit warrens. They are nocturnal, so sleep during the day and emerge after dusk to forage for food.

Diet

Eastern Barred Bandicoots eat mainly invertebrates from the soil. They locate their food using their well-developed sense of smell, then they use their strong claws and pointed nose to dig small conical holes from which they extract the food. Their favourite food items include root-eating grubs such as cockchafers and corbies. They also feed on beetles, earthworms, berries and fungi.

Status

The eastern barred bandicoot is considered threatened because the species is potentially at risk of becoming extinct although they are still common in some parts of Tasmania. However, the eastern barred bandicoot is now extinct in South Australia and ‘critically endangered’ in Victoria, where the population has been reduced to just 200 individuals.