What small Australian mammal has the ears of a rabbit, the powerful legs of a kangaroo, a long nose and distinctive tail?
The greater bilby.
Here are five interesting facts about them:
- These strange looking marsupials are the largest of the bandicoot family and can grow up to 55 cm long. The males are much larger than the females.
- They are excellent diggers and build extensive, spiralling burrows to keep them safe from predators and keep them cool during the heat of the day.
- Greater bilbies have one of the shortest gestation periods of all mammals, just 12-14 days. The babies are less than 1 cm long at birth. They grow up in their mother’s pouch, which faces backwards so that they don’t get filled up with dirt while they dig in their burrows.
- They live alone and are nocturnal, coming out at night and travelling widely to feed on insects, spiders, larvae, bulbs, seeds and fruit. Despite living in very dry areas, they get enough moisture from their food and don’t ever need to drink water.
- The greater bilby is a very unique species that is found throughout north-western Australia and south-west Queensland. They are considered vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss, competition for food from rabbits and being hunted by introduced predators such as cats and foxes. In Australia, they are often represented as an alternative to the Easter Bunny to raise awareness and funding for their protection. There have been successful breeding and reintroduction projects completed, so it is hoped that they can be saved from extinction.
I hope that you found these facts interesting and learned something new.
Are there any other interesting facts that you would like to share about greater bilbies?