This small marsupial is endemic to Australia. The fur of the animal is golden-brown. By its appearance, the Golden bandicoot reminds a hunched rat with a long tail. As opposed to other marsupials, webbed toes on their hind feet create a comb, which is used in grooming. While most bandicoot species exhibit considerably large ears and elongated snouts, the Golden bandicoots have short muzzles due to belonging to the genus of short-nosed bandicoots (Isoodon).
These marsupials are found only in Australia, where their range is limited to scattered areas in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. They are also known to inhabit Barrow, Middle, Augustus, Marchinbar and Uwins Islands. The preferred environment of the Golden bandicoot is dry savannah, dominated by acacia or eucalyptus. They frequently occur in vine thickets and coastal areas with scrub growth. The Golden bandicoots also favor rainforest margins, sandstones as well as rocky and spinifex areas.
These marsupials are generally solitary. They only socialize when mating or rearing their offspring. They are highly territorial with each individual having its own distinct home range. These nocturnal animals forage during the nighttime hours, resting in their burrows or nests by day. Burrows of these bandicoots are usually dug into the sand (though some individuals are known to reside in caves), while their nests are made out of flattened plant material. Golden bandicoots are able to see quite well in low visibility. As nocturnal animals, these bandicoots have a well-developed sense of hearing. They also use their keen sense of smell when foraging, while their whiskers help them perceive their environment.
These omnivorous animals primarily feed upon termites, ants and various other insects, complementing their diet with small reptiles as well as turtle eggs. Golden bandicoots are also known to eat seeds, roots, tubers and other plant material.
Little is known about the mating system of Golden bandicoots, but it is known that males disperse soon after copulation, suggesting that they may exhibit either polygynous or polygynandrous (promiscuous) mating system. These productive breeders mate all year round with two peak periods: one occurs in August, during the dry season, while the other takes place at the wet season, between December and January. Gestation period in this species is one of the shortest among mammals - 12.5 days. Females give birth to 2 - 3 juveniles, which immediately climb into her pouch, remaining there for approximately eight weeks. As soon as juveniles are weaned, the female is ready to mate again. Sexual maturity is reached at 3 months old.
Golden bandicoots have long suffered from changes in fire regimes. They have been hunted by exotic predators such as feral cats, and have competed with rabbits. As a result, Golden bandicoots have lost most of their original range.
According to the IUCN Red List, total population size of the Golden bandicoot is unknown for today. However, specific populations have been estimated in following areas: on Barrow Island - at least 20,000 individuals; on Middle Island – 1, 000 individuals; on Marchinbar Island - 1,400 animals. Population numbers of Golden bandicoots are decreasing today, and the animals are currently classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List.
On one hand, Golden bandicoots control populations of insect species they consume (e.g. cockroaches, termites or ants), thus benefiting humans, who consider these insects as pests. On the other hand, due to feeding upon vegetation, they serve as seed dispersers, helping some plants survive. In addition, bandicoots are key prey species for exotic and native predators of their range.