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Bandicoots

​​Tasmania has two species of bandicoot:
  • Eastern Barred Bandicoot, Perameles gunnii
  • Southern Brown Bandicoot, Isoodon obesulus
Tasmania's two species are relatively secure and are not listed as rare or threatened in Tasmania; however, the eastern barred bandicoot is critically endangered on mainland Australia.

The southern brown bandicoot occurs widely in Tasmania in a range of habitats including dry sclerophyll forest, scrub, heathland and agricultural areas. Although primarily nocturnal, they can be observed foraging during the day in urban areas adjacent to vegetative cover. Their numbers and signs of their diggings appear to increase in response to high rainfall years.

The eastern barred bandicoot occurs in eastern and northern Tasmania, particularly in areas where there is a mosaic of pasture and vegetative cover, including suburban areas where lawns also provide opportunity for foraging. It does not occur in high rainfall areas of western Tasmania, except in parts of the north west where native forest has been converted to pasture and where it may be associated with towns. Eastern barred bandicoots occur in more open vegetation and are more strictly nocturnal than southern brown bandicoots.

Bandicoots possess features which characterise both the carnivorous marsupials (dasyurids​) and the herbivorous marsupials such as the macropods (kangaroos and wallabies) and possums. Like carnivorous marsupials, they possess more than two incisors in each jaw, and like the herbivorous marsupials they have the second and third toes of the hindfoot fused together.

Bandicoots are noted for their remarkable breeding biology. They have one of the highest breeding rates of any animal of their size. Their gestation period (the time from conception to birth) is the shortest recorded for any mammal - 12 days! Interestingly, bandicoots (and the koala) possess a rudimentary 'placenta' which allows some degree of nutrient exchange between the blood of the mother and the embryo, as occurs in placental mammals. There are eight teats in the backward opening pouch. However, not all teats are available to new-born young, as those used by the previous litter are too distended to allow attachment. Consequently litter size is usually no more than half the number of teats in the pouch.