This report has been written about a "case study client", a rather charming, nocturnal Australian native animal and a loner at heart - the Long Nosed Bandicoot with the scientific name of Perameles nasuta (naz-yue'-tah: "prominent-nosed"). This animal belongs to the family Peramelidae, a group of warm-blooded mammals and is an omnivore marsupial (eating both plants and animals).
Marsupials evolved in North America, found their way to South America, and then into Australia via Antarctica when the southern continents were joined as Gondwana. Bandicoots are a distinctive order of only about 21 species of bandicoots, the "Long Nosed" is one of 11 main species of Bandicoots in Australia, with an additional 8 or so species of "Spiny" bandicoots living in the forests of New Guinea. In Australia's prehistoric times, bandicoots were much more varied. They seem to have suffered from climate change, the invasion of the rodents from Asia over millions of years, and finally, the arrival of European man. The Bluff Downs Bandicoot (Perameles allinghamensis) lived 4 million years ago and was about 19cm long. Fossil teeth of this particular Bandicoot have been found at Bluff Downs in north-eastern Australia.
The name "bandicoot" is not a particularly appropriate one. It is of Indian, not Aboriginal origin, being named after large rodents found in Asia that have the common name of "Bandicoot" and the scientific name of Bandicota. They have also been compared to "Badgers", for their scientific name "Petramele" means "pouched badger" in Greek. The early European settlers in Australia called them bandicoots because they look like a pig-rat or pandi-kokku of southern India. For the members of the group that have long rabbit-like ears, the Aboriginals gave them the name "Bilby". Several species of bandicoots are now extinct and many are vulnerable including the Bilby.
Various details were taken from the initial phone call of clear directions to the address, the contact name and telephone number of the person reporting the incident. It's vital for a Wildlife Carer to have a rescue kit packed in the car, to remember to drive safely and to keep calm at all times. It would be of no benefit to the injured or sick animal etc if the Carer endangered other lives in the process of speeding to a wildlife rescue.
AGE AND SEX
The bandicoot in care is an adult female with a litter of three young still attached to the teats in her reversed pouch. The young measure approximately 1cm in length, are furless with their eyes still closed. The mother weighed 1.2kg. Female bandicoots mature around 5 months of age.
REASON FOR COMING INTO CARE
Interrupted dog attack. A resident of Upper Coomera, in the hinterland of the Gold Coast, arrived home and as the car lights shone on her front yard she noticed another neighbour's dog playing with “something” on her front lawn. The bandicoot had surface lacerations to her front right leg and appeared to be in shock. The Bandicoot was carefully captured using a towel and put in a towel lined pet carrying cage, which was covered with a towel and safely placed on the back seat of the car and transported to the carer's home immediately.
Long Nosed Bandicoots love to feed on insects and insect larvae, lizards, mice, snails, worms, spiders, other small invertebrates, grass seeds, fruits and berries, including fruit tree root weevils and the larvae of the scarabaeid beetle, which feeds on the grass roots of lawns and pastures as well as soft roots of plants that they dig out from leaf litter, among roots and in the earth. It's worth remembering that the grubs the bandicoots eat could do more harm in the lawns than the bandicoots do. Bandicoots need very little water; they get the water they need from their food. However, water should always be offered to an animal in care.
HABITAT AND LOCATION
The Long Nosed Bandicoots are widespread and common along the east coast from North Queensland south into Victoria and Tasmania. They're at home in all kinds of habitat, from rainforest through to wet and dry woodlands to sparsely vegetated areas and even in suburban gardens, where their excavations are not always appreciated. They are quite secretive, needing ground cover for shelter and looking for food close by. Their days are spent in shallow nests that have been dug into the rainforest floor and lined with grass and leaves they gather with their forelegs.
The upper surface of the nest, which is sometimes flattened and partly covered with soil, may be well concealed under rainforest litter. When the nest is in use, its entrance is closed. Abandoned rabbit burrows, rock piles, and hollow logs are also used as nest sites. Their home range in this species has been reported as about 1-4 ha. for females and 18-40 ha. for males. There may be considerable overlap in female ranges, and presumably several are included within the home range of each male. As coastal cities are expanding, and bush land is lost, the bandicoot is being squeezed out of its habitat.
Long-nosed bandicoots are nocturnal, terrestrial, and highly active.
Their rapid running has been described as a kind of gallop, and they have been seen to jump straight up into the air and then to take off immediately in another direction.
Meetings between males and females are restricted to their mating seasons and breeding occurs throughout the year. The only time females tolerate the company of males is when in season and solely to mate. After that event the male is no longer welcome.
These small marsupials live a solitary life, nest alone and spend the day hidden in a nest, hollow log or just under bushes with males acting aggressively when coming into contact. From various studies in enclosures this species was not gregarious, individuals tended to ignore each other, and there was no territorial defence. Studies have also shown that pairs or family groups could be kept together if the enclosure were sufficiently large but that two or more males should not be placed in the same enclosure.
As nocturnal animals, they forage for food at night and during the day live in their leaf and vegetation lined nests, often in logs, crevices or scraped out burrows or tunnels.
Their life span is only about three years.
They move over the ground sniffling and snuffling as they go, and find insects by smelling them. They also have the ability to detect worms and grubs under the soil and quickly dig down with their narrow front feet. The front feet have three toes with long curving claws, so the holes they dig are narrow and pointed at the bottom, and the narrow snout fits neatly into the hole to get the worm or grub at the bottom of the hole.
These small animals play an important part in wildlife ecology by their feeding and digging habit, which in turn allows the environment and other small animals to play their part. They themselves are also part of the food chain by being attractive to snakes.