Isoodon auratusgolden bandicoot

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Geographic Range

Golden bandicoots, Isoodon auratus, are endemic to Australia. They were historically found throughout the interior of Australia but are currently restricted to very small areas of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Additional populations exist on Barrow, Middle, Augustus, Marchinbar and Uwins Islands. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003; Bradshaw, et al., 1994; Burbidge, et al., 2008; Ellis, et al., 1991; Morris, 1987; Morris, 2002; Palmer and Woinarski, 2006; Southgate, et al., 1996; Withers, 1992)

Habitat

Golden bandicoots occupy a variety of habitats. They can be found in dry savannah habitats with an acacia or eucalyptus overstory, and they also colonize vine thickets. They occupy coastal scrub areas as well as rainforest margins and sometimes occupy rocky, sandstone and spinifex areas. Historically, golden bandicoots occurred throughout Australia in arid and semi-arid regions. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003; Burbidge, et al., 2008; Southgate, et al., 1996)

  • Other Habitat Features
  • caves

Physical Description

Golden bandicoots are the smallest of the short nosed bandicoots, weighing between 300 and 670 g with measuring on average 350 mm in length. Males are generally larger than females. These marsupials have a compact body, sharp claws and a long nose. Their fur is brownish gold and is streaked with black on the upper and side parts of the body. The abdominal region and feet are a light amber color. The hairs of the fur are very course and stiff. The tail is long and sparsely haired. Golden bandicoots have rounded ears, and their eyes are very dark in color. They have a hunched overall body posture and are rat-like in appearance. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003; Bradshaw, et al., 1994; Burbidge, et al., 2008; Withers, 1992)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    300 to 670 g
    10.57 to 23.61 oz
  • Average length
    350 mm
    13.78 in

Reproduction

Little is known about the mating system of golden bandicoots.

Golden bandicoots breed throughout the year. Males and females mate briefly, and the male disperses after copulation. Gestation lasts about 2 weeks. Once the young are born they attach to one of their mother’s 8 teats inside her pouch. Offspring are very small when born, and litters consist of 2 to 4 individuals. Females nurse their young for about 8 weeks and can begin to mate shortly after the young have weaned. Juveniles become sexually mature around 3 months of age. Golden bandicoots reproduce as many times as they can during their short lives, and there is a significant increase in reproduction during seasons with high rainfall. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003)

  • Breeding interval
    Golden bandicoots can breed every 10 to 12 weeks.
  • Breeding season
    Golden bandicoots breed throughout the year.
  • Range number of offspring
    2 to 4
  • Average gestation period
    2 weeks
  • Average weaning age
    8 weeks
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    3 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    3 months

Male golden bandicoots disperse after copulation and do not contribute to raising offspring. Females provide milk to their young, which are weaned by 8 weeks of age. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Golden bandicoots have a relatively short life span in the wild, usually between 2 to 3 years. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    2 to 3 years

Behavior

Golden bandicoots are solitary except when mating or raising young. They have independent home ranges and are very territorial. Golden bandicoots are nocturnal and feed at night. During the day, they stay in burrows dug into the sand or nests that they create from flattened plant matter. Some golden bandicoots seek shelter in caves. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003; Burbidge, et al., 2008)

  • Range territory size
    0.017 to 0.35 km^2

Home Range

The home range of golden bandicoots is approximately 0.044 to 0.35 sq km for males. Females have much smaller home ranges, ranging from 0.017 to 0.12 sq km. Home ranges are slightly larger during the dry season and usually center around nest sites. Although they are solitary creatures, their home ranges can overlap. ("Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003)

Communication and Perception

Golden bandicoots perceive their environment in many ways. Because they are nocturnal, they rely heavily on the ability to hear. Golden bandicoots also have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to find prey. They use their whiskers to feel around their environment. Additionally, they can see relatively well in the dark. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003; Burbidge, et al., 2008)

Food Habits

Golden bandicoots are omnivorous. Their diet mainly consists of insects such as termites, ants and other arthropods. They also eat a variety of arachnid species. Golden bandicoots have been known to prey upon turtle eggs and small reptiles. Additionally, they consume plant material, usually consisting of seeds, roots, and tubers. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003; Morris, 1987; Southgate, et al., 1996)

  • Animal Foods
  • reptiles
  • eggs
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers

Predation

Predators of golden bandicoots mainly consist of non-native species that were introduced to Australia, such as red foxes and feral cats. Dingos and domestic dogs also prey upon golden bandicoots. Other native predators of golden bandicoots include reptiles such as pythons and monitor lizards, as well as northern quolls, scaley-tailed possoms and rock ringtail possums. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003; Burbidge, et al., 2008)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Golden bandicoots are important prey items to native and non-native predators. As a result of their diet, they control some insect populations that are considered pests by humans, such as cockroaches, termites and ants. Golden bandicoots also disperse seeds of certain plants they eat. ("Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Golden bandicoots can control insect populations that are considered pests by humans, such as cockroaches, termites and ants. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003; Burbidge, et al., 2008)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of golden bandicoots on humans.

Conservation Status

Golden bandicoots are considered vulnerable, and populations are decreasing for a variety of reasons. Predation by non-native species, especially by feral cats, is particularly damaging to populations. Golden bandicoots on Barrow and Middle Islands seem to have stable populations because few non-native species occupy these islands. Preventing the spread of feral cats to these islands is important for conservation of this species, especially on Barrow island, where the largest population of golden bandicoots occurs.

Change in fire regimes has also negatively affected populations of bandicoots. Golden bandicoots have no cover after a fire and are easily preyed upon by non-native predators.

In some areas, golden bandicoots also competete with non-native black rats. ("Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities", 2012; "Isoodon auratus", 2005; "Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009", 2003; Burbidge, et al., 2008; Morris, 2002)

Contributors

Molly Norlin (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Gail McCormick (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year

References

2012. "Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities" (On-line). Isoodon auratus auratus - golden bandicoot (mainland). Accessed February 15, 2012 at http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=66665.

2005. "Isoodon auratus" (On-line). Animal Info-Endangered Animals. Accessed February 21, 2012 at http://www.animalinfo.org/species/isooaura.htm.

Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment, Northern Territory. Recovery Plan for the Golden Bandicoot Isoodon auratus and Golden-backed Tree-Rat Mesembriomys macrurus 2004-2009. 190277226X. Darwin, Australia: Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment, Darwin. 2003.

Bradshaw, S., K. Morris, C. Dickman, P. Withers, D. Murphy. 1994. Feild metabolism and turnover in the golden bandicoot (Isoodon-Auratus) and other small mammals from Barrow Island, Western-Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology, 42: 29-41.

Burbidge, A., J. Woinarski, K. Morris. 2008. "Isoodon auratus" (On-line). In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. Accessed February 23, 2012 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/10863/0.

Ellis, M., P. Wilson, S. Hamilton. 1991. The golden bandicoot, Isoodon auratus Ramsay 1887, in western New South Wales during European times. Austrailian Zoologist, 27: 36-37.

Morris, D. 1987. Turtle egg predation by the golden bandicoot (Isoodon auratus) on Barrow Island. The Western Australian Naturalist, 17: 18-19.

Morris, K. 2002. The eradication of the black rat (Rattus rattus) on Barrow and adjacent islands off the north-west coast of Western Australia. The World Conservation Union, 27: 219-225. Accessed February 23, 2012 at http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/wildlife/animals/threatened/pdf/mammals/golden_bandicoot_en.pdf.

Palmer, C., J. Woinarski. 2006. "Threatened species of the Northern Territory goldeb Bandicoot Isoodon auratus" (On-line). Northern Territory Government Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts. Accessed February 10, 2012 at http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/wildlife/animals/threatened/pdf/mammals/golden_bandicoot_en.pdf.

Southgate, R., C. Palmer, M. Adams, P. Masters, B. Triggs, J. Woinarski. 1996. Population and habitat characteristics of the golden bandicoot (Isoodon auratus) on Marchinbar Island, Northern Territory. Wildlife Research, 23: 647-664.

Withers, P. 1992. Metabolism, water balance and temperature regulation in the golden bandicoot (Isoodon auratus). Australian Journal of Zoology, 40: 523-531.