Golden Bandicoot

Golden Bandicoot

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Infraclass
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Isoodon auratus
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
2-3 yrs
TOP SPEED
24 km/h
WEIGHT
260-655 g
LENGTH
35 cm

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).

Distibution

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.

Golden Bandicoot habitat map

Geography

Continents
Countries

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

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.

Diet and Nutrition

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.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
Year-round, peaks in December to January and in August
PREGNANCY DURATION
12.5 days
BABY CARRYING
2-3 joeys
INDEPENDENT AGE
8 weeks
BABY NAME
joey

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.

Population

Population threats

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.

Population number

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.

Ecological niche

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.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The word "bandicoot" originates from Telugu word "pandikokku", meaning "pig-rat". Meanwhile, "pig-rats" were rodents, endemic to India and Sri-Lanka, belonging to bandicoot genus.
  • The strong and powerful hind legs help these animals when jumping. The second and third toes on their feet are webbed, as common in kangaroos.
  • When spotting prey item underground, a bandicoot will start digging a hole with its front paws, trying to get to its prey with its long snout.
  • These highly vocal animals use a variety of calls in their daily life. Thus, they are known to snuff when foraging. And finally, when they find food, the bandicoots usually give out a grunting sound, similar to that of a piglet. In addition, they tend to emit high-pitched calls when disturbed.
  • As a result of adaptation to the specific lifestyle, the pouch of bandicoots faces backward rather than forward as in other marsupials. Due to opening backward, the pouch remains clean as the animal digs the ground when foraging.

References

1. Golden Bandicoot Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_bandicoot
2. Golden Bandicoot on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/10863/0

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About