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South-central Victoria

How are bandicoots managing to survive in urban areas?

A pocket of threatened bandicoots are thriving on Victoria’s urban fringes – how are they doing this? And what happens when they start living in drains and eating out of cat food bowls? Help monitor their population and keep an eye on their predators.

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Animals you’ll see

Southern brown bandicoot. Image credit: John Chapman
Image: John Chapman

Southern brown bandicoot (threatened species) 
Bandicoots have a long, pointed snout, small eyes, rounded ears, large rump (giving them a humped appearance) and a short, thin tail about half the body length. Fur is coarse brindled greyish or yellowish brown above and whitish on the belly. They are about the size of a small rabbit.

 

 

Red fox (pest species)
The red fox is red or sandy coloured with thin black legs, and a white chin and throat. Its distinctive tail is thick and often white at the tip.

 

Rabbit (pest species)
Rabbits have grey-brown fur with paler grey beneath, long ears and a white tail.

 

 

Top tips from the researchers

  • Bandicoots are bigger than rats and have a a longer more pointed nose, small round ears and a much shorter, thicker tail in relation to their body than rats do. Their fur is brindled and they have a distinctive hunched back a bit like a mini-kangaroo. 
  • Mice look similar to small rats but their tails are the same length as the body.  
  • If visible, the tea-strainer (used to hold the bait) can be used to gauge the size of animals in the images.

The research

Sarah Maclagan is currently working on her PhD at Deakin University. Her research is looking at how the endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot is surviving in narrow linear strips of habitat along roads, drains and railway lines on the outskirts of Melbourne. She hopes to shed light on how we can keep bandicoots and other native wildlife within the landscape as urban expansion continues. An important question is whether bandicoots are changing their daily activity patterns to avoid introduced predators or competitors such as foxes, cats, rabbits or rats. Volunteers participating in Wildlife Spotter will be directly helping to answer this question.

 

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