Too big to be a rat, too small to be a wallaby

Bandicoots are small marsupials that have strong hind legs designed for jumping and sharp front paws to dig holes when it detects underground prey. Bandicoots then reach their meal with their long snout and use their pointed teeth to chomp through their prize. These opportunistic omnivores, are happy to eat pretty much anything, from insects, larvae, lizards, mice and snails, to fungi, grass seeds, berries and fruit. They ‘grunt’ happily when they’re munching their food, and make a shrill squeak when disturbed.

Just like in other marsupials, female bandicoots have a pouch. And like wombats, the pouch faces upside down to protect their offspring from the dirt when digging.

Bandicoots have the shortest pregnancy of all mammals (12 days). Like Koalas, baby bandicoots are very small and poorly developed at birth. After birth, they crawl toward the pouch, where they complete their development.

Bandicoots are a protected animal in all states of Australia. Of the 20 species of bandicoots in Australia, 7 are listed as critically endangered or already extinct. Introduced and native species, like foxes, dingos, large birds and feral and domestic cats and dogs are bandicoots predators.

Bandicoots play an important role in the ecosystem as they turn over soil, increasing the rate of leaf litter decomposition, soil production and nutrient cycling. They’re also critical in dispersing fungi spores, so losing bandicoots from ecosystems would have fatal cascading effects on plant diversity, species composition and structure of forests and woodlands in Australia and SouthEast Asia where they live.

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