Southern brown bandicoots are small omnivorous marsupials found mostly in southern Australia. They have coarse, bristly hair that is grizzled and colored a dark greyish to yellowish-brown, with the undersides a creamy-white or yellowish-grey. The tail is relatively short, measuring only 13 cm (5.1 in) in length, and is brown above and white below.
Once common throughout many parts of coastal Australia, today Southern brown bandicoots have more limited distribution. An isolated population exists at the northeastern part of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, but all other surviving animals are found in the southern half of the country. Within these regions, Southern brown bandicoots inhabit the open forest, scrub, and heathland, especially where there is extensive ground cover by shrubs or mat-rushes.
Southern brown bandicoots are nocturnal animals. Although their native predators include barn owls, tiger snakes, and quolls, the bandicoots do not avoid the odor of these animals, which may make them vulnerable to predation. They do, however, typically avoid one another, living solitary lives in non-overlapping home ranges that vary from 1 to 5 hectares (2.5 to 12.4 acres), depending on the local conditions. If males encounter one another, the more dominant individual leaps onto the back of the other, scratching with its claws. Because the skin of bandicoots is unusually thick, this results in hair loss, but a little permanent injury to the defeated male. Southern brown bandicoots spend much of the night searching for food, which they detect primarily by scent, sniffing the ground before digging into with their claws. They pursue any prey that escapes, holding it down with their forepaws as they consume it. During the day they usually sleep in well-concealed nests of shredded vegetation. Both the males and the females possess scent glands between the ears that are apparently used in intra-species communication and become enlarged during the breeding season.
Southern brown bandicoots are omnivores, feeding on insects, spiders, worms, plant roots, ferns, and fungi. They spend very little time drinking, obtaining sufficient water from their diet alone.
The breeding season of Southern brown bandicoots is closely linked to local rainfall patterns, and many individuals breed all year round, giving birth to up to 4 litters a year. Gestation lasts 12-15 days, and typically results in the birth of 2 or 3 young. Baby bandicoots weigh just 350 mg (5.4 gr) at birth, remain in the pouch for about the first 53 days of life, and are fully weaned at around 60 days. Females becoming reproductively mature at 4 to 5 months of age, and males at 6 or 7 months.
The main threats to Southern brown bandicoots include habitat fragmentation and introduced predators such as the red fox and feral cats.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Southern brown bandicoot is 10,000-100,000 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and but its numbers today are decreasing.