Western barred bandicoots (Perameles bourgainville) are endemic to Australia. Originally, this species inhabited the mainland from Onslow and Wheatbelt in the west and New South Wales and Victoria in the east. Currently, they only reside naturally on the islands of Bernier and Dorre in Shark Bay, located off of the western coast of Australia. These islands were separated from the mainland about 8,000 years ago and they were separated from each other between 3,000 to 6,000 years ago. Populations have been removed from Dorre and Bernier Islands to be reintroduced to Heirisson Prong, Faure Island and the Arid Recovery Reserve at Roxby Downs. Captive breeding programs have also been attempted to establish populations in Dryandra Woodland, Peron Captive Breeding Centre and Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. ("ARKive", 2004; Bennett and Murdoch University, 2008; Friend and Richards, 2008; Friend, 2012; Richards and Short, 2003)
Originally, western barred bandicoots were found in arid and semi-arid areas with open bluebush, saltbush, scrublands and stony hills. Currently, they live in scrublands, sandhills and grasslands of stable dunes, just off of the beach. If predators are absent, they are fairly adaptable to their introduced habitats. ("ARKive", 2004; Bennett and Murdoch University, 2008; Friend and Richards, 2008)
- Range elevation
- -1 to 49 m
- -3.28 to 160.76 ft
This small marsupial has light brown to grey fur, which fades to white on their feet and bellies. They have two to three stripes on their hindquarters, known as 'bars', which alternate between brown-grey and brown-black fur. Western barred bandicoots have a long, pointed snout and large, erect ears. Their hind feet are elongated and their second and third toes are partially fused, their forth toe is long and equipped with a strong claw. Their marsupium faces backwards, so dirt is not kicked inside while females dig. Their tail is about 1/3 of their total length. Western barred bandicoots are the smallest members of the bandicoot family. At birth, they are about one centimeter long and weigh about 0.25 g. When they are fully grown, their head and body length is about 17.1 to 23.6 cm and they weigh between 172 and 286 g. These animals show slight sexual dimorphism; the females weigh more and have longer snouts than the males. There is no physical difference between the different island populations. A distinguishing factor between this animal and their close relatives are the bars on their hind quarters and their relative size. Eastern barred bandicoots are longer, between 27 to 35 cm and southern brown bandicoots are dark brown and have shorter ears, muzzles and hind feet. ("ARKive", 2004; "Bandicoots", 2008; Short, et al., 1998; Tacutu, et al., 2012; Young, 2002)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- female larger
- Range mass
- 172 to 286 g
- 6.06 to 10.08 oz
- Average mass
- 226 g
- 7.96 oz
- Range length
- 17.1 to 23.6 cm
- 6.73 to 9.29 in
- Average length
- 28 with tail cm
- Average basal metabolic rate
- .68 cm3.O2/g/hr
Western barred bandicoots can breed throughout the year. A few nights before estrus, males and females become sexually attracted, particularly at dusk. Immediately after mating, all attraction ceases. Males follow females, attempting to grasp their tails. When they catch a tail, the male holds it to the ground and the female raise her hindquarters. Intromission only lasts about 30 seconds at a time; males continuously penetrate for a period of about 26 to 120 minutes. Their large testes give evidence for a promiscuous mating system. While mating, the female's tail is often severally damaged or may fall off. (Bennett and Murdoch University, 2008; Short, et al., 1998; "Western Barred Bandicoot Perameles bougainville (Quoy and Gaimard, 1834)", 2012)
- Mating System
- polygynandrous (promiscuous)
Western barred bandicoots breed about every 2 months. Their breeding season lasts all year, but they prefer the cooler months between April and October. These animals have the highest breeding rate for animals of their size and only have a 12 day gestation period. An average litter consists of 1.8 young; the ratio of males to females is 1.2 to 1, respectively. Females typically have 1 to 3 young per litter and around 4 litters a year. The pouch young are weaned when they are about 61 to 63 days old, just before the next litter is born. The young become independent shortly after being weaned. Females become sexually mature at around 120 days while males take slightly longer at 150 days. (Bennett and Murdoch University, 2008; "Bandicoots", 2008; Friend and Richards, 2008; "Western barred bandicoot (Parameles bougainville bougainville)", 2009; Richards and Short, 2003; Short, et al., 1998; Tacutu, et al., 2012)
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- year-round breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- Western barred bandicoots breed every two months, but more frequently in the cooler months.
- Breeding season
- Mating can occur all year long but tends to be more concentrated in the cooler months, from April to October.
- Range number of offspring
- 1 to 3
- Average number of offspring
- Average gestation period
- 12 days
- Range weaning age
- 61 to 63 days
- Range time to independence
- 61 to 63 days
- Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
- 120 days
- Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
- 150 days
Females take care of their young while they are in the pouch and for a very short time after they leave. Inside the pouch, 8 teats are arranged in two semicircles. Newborns use a teat that was not been used by the previous litter. The young continue to grow in the pouch until they are about 50 to 54 days old and begin to emerge. At this point, the mother leaves the young in the nest while she forages. Around day 61 to 63, the young are weaned and are soon kicked out of the nest to make space for the next litter. (Bennett and Murdoch University, 2008)
- Parental Investment
- female parental care
Western barred bandicoots live a maximum of 5.8 years in captivity. In Heirisson Prong, females have a maximum lifespan of more than 5 years, where males have a maximum lifespan of 4.5 years; the average lifespan at this facility is less than 18 months. In Peron, the maximum lifespan is 5 years, females live an average of 3 years and males live an average of 3.5 years. The lifespan of wild populations has not been determined. (Bennett and Murdoch University, 2008; Tacutu, et al., 2012)
- Range lifespan
- 1.5 to 5.8 years
- Range lifespan
Western barred bandicoots are nocturnal, solitary animals that make nests within their home range. Their nests are built in shallow hollows or leaf litter under low shrubs. During the day, they stay in their nests until dusk when they emerge to forage. Within a 24 hour period, males may travel up to 1,020 m while females limit their traveling to about 490 m. (Bennett and Murdoch University, 2008; "Western barred bandicoot (Parameles bougainville bougainville)", 2009; Richards and Short, 2003; Short, et al., 1998; "Western Barred Bandicoot Perameles bougainville (Quoy and Gaimard, 1834)", 2012)
The home range of a male is about 2.5 to 14.2 hectares, while a female’s home range is only 1.4 to 6.2 hectares. These ranges may overlap but it is generally only on the outer boundary limits. As the population increases, home ranges generally decrease. ("Western Barred Bandicoot Perameles bougainville (Quoy and Gaimard, 1834)", 2012)
Communication and Perception
These animals are nocturnal, so they depend on touch, smell and hearing while hunting and traveling at night. They are very solitary and rarely live together. Both sexes have special scent glands behind their ears for marking their territory, males have scent glands for attracting and laying claim to a female for mating. Not much is known about how these animals communicate, but males make puffing sounds and show their aggression by opening their mouths and chasing other males. ("ARKive", 2004; "Perameles bougainville", 2010; Bennett and Murdoch University, 2008)
- Other Communication Modes
- scent marks
Western barred bandicoots are terrestrial omnivores; they eat arthropods, plants, roots, herbs, seeds, berries, fungi and occasionally small vertebrates. As nocturnal animals, they go out at night to forage and dig for their food. (Bennett and Murdoch University, 2008; Short, et al., 1998; "Western Barred Bandicoot Perameles bougainville (Quoy and Gaimard, 1834)", 2012)
- Primary Diet
- Animal Foods
- terrestrial non-insect arthropods
- Plant Foods
- roots and tubers
- seeds, grains, and nuts
- Other Foods
Foxes and feral cats were introduced to Australia and can severely damage native populations, including the population size of western barred bandicoots. These bandicoots are able to run fast, jump straight into the air and change direction quickly to escape these predators. (Friend, 2012)
- Known Predators
- foxes (Vulpini)
- feral cats (Felis catus)
Cats and foxes are major predators that could eliminate populations. Fire, disease, rats and mice may also cause issues by depleting their habitats or food sources. By trying to protect this species and remove introduced predators, the other native flora and fauna may benefit. Foxes and feral cats prey on more than just bandicoots, removing them would help protect other small mammal populations. Western barred bandicoots also have many ecto- and endoparasites such as mites, ticks, fleas, nematodes and protists. ("Western Barred Bandicoot Perameles bougainville, Burrowing Bettong Bettongia lesueur and Banded Hare-Wallaby Lagostrophus fasciatus National Recovery Plan", 2012; Bennett and Murdoch University, 2008; Friend and Richards, 2008)
- mites: Austrochirus dorreensis, Schoutedenichia emphyla
- ticks: Haemaphysalis humerosa, Haemaphysalis ratti, Haemaphysalis lagostrophi
- fleas: Pygiosylla tunneyi, Xenopsylla vexabilis vexabilis, Echidnophaga gallinacean, Leptopsylla segnis, Pulex irritans
- nematodes: Labiobulura inglisi, Linstowinema inglisi, Asymmetracantha tasmaniensis, Peramelistrongylus skedastos, Capillaris
- protists: Eimeria kanyana, Klossiella quimrensis, Cryptosporidium, Toxoplasma gondii, Giardia
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
There are no known positive effects of western barred bandicoots on humans.
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There are no known adverse effects of western barred bandicoots on humans.
Western barred bandicoots are listed as 'endangered' by the IUCN and the US Federal List, CITES places them under Appendix I. Their native islands, Bernier and Dorre, are protected areas. A recovery plan was developed between 2005 and 2010 and involves the protection of wild populations and their habitat by maintaining captive populations, enhancing community participation and education and introducing populations to the mainland. The Arid Recovery area is looking for new locations where climate fluctuations are manageable. Captive populations may become infected with the poorly known papillomatosis carcinomatosis virus, the course of this infection is determined by the host’s immune system. Likewise, a new species of Chlamydiales bacteria was isolated in 2000 from a handful of western barred bandicoots on Bernier Island, preventing the relocation of these animals to avoid infecting others. In 2005, topical oxytetracycline and neomycin eye drops were given for 4 months and oxytetracycline was given intramuscularly for 6 weeks to treat this. (Bennett and Murdoch University, 2008; Friend and Richards, 2008; Warren, et al., 2005)
Laura Rochefort (author), Northern Michigan University, John Bruggink (editor), Northern Michigan University, Leila Siciliano Martina (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
uses sound to communicate
- 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.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
- 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.
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
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
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.
active during the night
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.
- scent marks
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
- scrub forest
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
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.
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.
uses sight to communicate
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
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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 2013. "Environment Conservation Online System" (On-line). Barred bandicoot (http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=A02Y.). Accessed January 30, 2013 at
The Government of Western Australia. 2012. "Western Barred Bandicoot www.dec.wa.gov.au.(Quoy and Gaimard, 1834)" (On-line). Department of Environment and Conservation. Accessed February 03, 2013 at
Species and Communities Unit. Western Barred Bandicoot Bettongia lesueur and Banded Hare-Wallaby Lagostrophus fasciatus National Recovery Plan. 49. Western Australia: Department of Environment and Conservation (Western Australia). 2012. Accessed April 26, 2013 at http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/pubs/shark-bay-marsupials.pdf., Burrowing Bettong
Government of Western Australia: Department of Environment and Conservation. 2009. "Western barred bandicoot (Parameles bougainville bougainville)" (On-line). Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Western Australia. Accessed January 29, 2013 at http://www.sharkbay.org/assets/documents/fact%20sheets/western%20barred%20bandicoot%20v2.pdf.
Bennett, M., Murdoch University. 2008. "Western barred bandicoot in health and disease: thesis" (On-line). Accessed January 31, 2013 at http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/474/2/02Whole.pdf.
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Friend, T. 2012. "Genetics and ecology of the western bandicoot" (On-line). Department of Environment and Conservation. Accessed January 29, 2013 at http://www.dec.wa.gov.au/our-environment/science-and-research/animal-conservation-research/5765-genetics-and-ecology-of-the-western-barred-bandicoot.html.
Richards, J., J. Short. 2003. Reintroduction and establishment of the western barred bandicoot Marsupialia: Peramelidae) at Shark Bay, Western Australia. Biological Conservation, 109: 181-195. Accessed January 29, 2013 at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320702001404.(
Short, J., J. Richards, B. Turner. 1998. Ecology of the western barred bandicoot (Marsupialia: Peramelidae) on Dorre and Bernier Islands, Western Australia. wildlife Research, 25: 567-586. Accessed February 04, 2012 at http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WR97131.htm.) (
Tacutu, C., A. Budovsky, D. Wuttke, G. Lehmann, D. Taranukha, J. Costa, V. Fraifeld, J. Magalhaes. 2012. "Human Ageing Genomic Resources: Integrated databases and tools for the biology and genetics of ageing" (On-line). AnAge entry for http://genomics.senescence.info/species/entry.php?species=Perameles_bougainville.. Accessed January 28, 2013 at
Warren, K., R. Swan, T. Bodetti, T. Friend, S. Hill, P. Timms. 2005. Ocular Chlamydiales infections of Western Barred Bandicoot (Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 36: 100-102. Accessed January 30, 2013 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/20096420.) in Western Australia.
Young, S. 2002. Zoological Restraint and Anesthesia. Ithaca, New York: International Veterinary Information Service. Accessed January 29, 2013 at http://www.ivis.org/special_books/Heard/young/ivis.pdf.