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Monday, 18 Dec 2017

Bandicoots

The Southern Brown Bandicoot (Isoodon Obesulus) 

 

band_3You may have seen or heard a Southern Brown Bandicoot if you live in Roleystone, Karragullen and surrounding areas. Predominantly feeding at dusk, they can be heard rustling and hopping through the underbrush.
The Bandicoot goes by various common names such as the Short nose bandicoot, Southern short nosed bandicoot, Brown Bandicoot. Its indigenous names are Quenda or Bung.
I've only seen them in Roleystone in the last 10 years. Nowadays it is almost impossible not to miss them. Some people believe it has been in the introduction of fox baiting that has seen the rise in the Bandicoot population. Others say it has been the depletion of the Bandi's native environment due to property development that has driven the little marsupials into our yards.

 Meet "Norman" the Southern Brown Bandicoot that lives on Madew Street

 

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The wild bandicoot is typically nocturnal. The Bandicoot searches for food either on the surface, or will dig small conical holes with its fore claws. Bandicoots feed on insects, earthworms and other invertebrates. It also eats fungi and other sub terrain plants. They typically seek refuge in low ground covers. (I've been told that if a Bandicoot doesn't get enough protein, it will chew on its own tail!).
In the wild, an adult Bandicoot will defend a home range of up to 7 hectares. In times of good food supply, home ranges may overlap substantially.
 

 

However the Bandicoot has been forced to adapt its ways to co-exist with us in Roleystone. I've seen them being hand fed during the day. They will seek refuge in piles of garden leaves, pipes, drains and wood piles.
The death rate in juvenile Bandicoots is high, however the breeding rate is also high. Breeding begins in winter and can last up to eight months. The female Bandicoot has a rear pouch with eight teats and can have usually two to four young in a litter. Two or three litters may be reared in a season. The young are weaned after 70 days to begin their independent lives. Typically Bandicoots live for about 3 years.

Living with Bandicoots in your yard

 

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To help protect the Bandicoots from the local dogs and cats, I've made a log cabin for them. It is easy to make and the Bandicoots aren't too fussy about the Décor.

It is constructed of wooden logs from the property, stacked together like a log cabin, 0.5m high. On the top of the cabin is a piece of hardifence to keep the inside dry.

To encourage the Bandicoots inside the cabin, fill the inside with sticks and leaves.

I've fenced around the Bandicoot lodges with wire mesh to keep the dog out. The mesh needs to be coarse enough to allow the Bandi's to pass through.

 

Bandicoots are prone to drowning in pools. To avoid this, place a 30cm high fencing wire around the base of your pool fence and tie with wire or cable ties. This method is discrete, easy to install and will stop the Bandicoots from entering your pool area.

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To provide water for the Bandicoots, use a small bowl and pipe it to the reticulation.

Alternatively, if you have a dripping hot water system, pipe the relief valve to a shallow water bowl.

It is important to use a small, shallow bowl to avoid breading mosquitoes. (Bandicoots don't need a lot of water).

 

Bandicoots require earthworms, grubs and insects to feed so your property needs to produce a good supply. Keep your garden well mulched and only use organic fertiliser to increase earthworm populations.

Bandicoots will also eat most food scraps. They enjoy fruit such as apples and peaches. They also will eat cooked sausage. Please refrain from feeding them yeast products as this may give them stomach problems.

If you do start regularly feeding the Bandicoots with scraps, please be aware that you have inadvertently made a commitment to these friendly marsupials. By feeding the Bandicoots, you will boost the population and they will become dependant on the food you provide. If you go away on holidays, the Bandicoots may suffer and some may die.

Unfortunately Cats will attack bandicoots, and it is hard to keep them away. To protect the Bandicoots, keep cats indoors at night, particularly around dusk when the Bandi's are foraging. During the day, the Bandicoots are pretty good at hiding from them.

For those who use traps to catch unwanted pests like feral cats, keep the traps at least 0.5m up off the ground. The Bandicoot doesn't jump high, so a trap set up on a table will not trap a Bandicoot.

Further Reading:

http://www.dec.wa.gov.au/content/view/3432/1999/1/2/

PDF file sp_quenda.pdf

References:
Southern Brown Bandicoot, Shaw 1797, Order Peramelemorphia.

 

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