Perameles gunniieastern barred bandicoot

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Geographic Range

Perameles gunnii, the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, is restricted to Australia and Tasmania. The species once lived between Melbourne and the South Australian border and in the north and east of Tasmania. Because of serious decline in their population, their number on the continent of Australia is now limited, but the survival rate in Tasmania is much higher.

Habitat

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot is found in the grasslands and grassy woodland of Australia and Tasmania. Bandicoots habitat includes tall dense grass and shrub cover; most are found near a water supply. Many have adapted to living in tree shelter belts, bush blocks, and on farms where they can hide from predators. Many have found their way into gardens, cemetaries, and car dumps.

Physical Description

Perameles gunni has a head and body length of up to 340 mm. The skull is flattened and the rostrum is very long. The head is elongated and slender, and it tapers to a pink nose. The Eastern Barred Bandicoot has a whiskered muzzle and large, prominent ears, similar to those of a rabbit. Its fur is greyish brown and very soft, while the torso and hindquarters bear the characteristic pale bars or stripes that give the marsupial its name. The Eastern Barred Bandicoot is easily distinguishable from the Brown Bandicoot because the Brown Bandicoot lacks stripes.

The underside of the animal is creamy white. The tail is around 100 mm long and is also creamy white. It is not prehensile. Strong claws are attached to the animals hands and feet. The dental formula for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot is 4/3, 1/1, 3/3, 4/4.

Females have a pouch.

  • Average mass
    640 g
    22.56 oz
  • Average mass
    766 g
    27.00 oz
    AnAge
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    1.902 W
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Reproduction

The reproductive rate for Perameles gunnii is very high. But the mortality rate is also extremely high, particularly among juveniles. Bandicoots are solitary animals and only mix with other bandicoots when breeding. In Tasmania, young are born between late May and December. Females may begin breeding around the age of 3 months. A female may produce as many as 3-4 litters during a breeding season. The common litter size is 1-4 young. This means that a female barred bandicoot has the reproducitve capacity of producing up to nearly 16 young in one breeding season. Young remain in the mother's pouch for about 55 days. The young generally remain with the mother in the nest for a week or two after they leave the pouch. This is the only time that one will find an Eastern Barred Bandicoot sharing its nest. The home range for males is approximately 100 acres ( 40 hectares ), and 75 acres ( 30 hectares ) for females. These territories do overlap.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
    2
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    12 days
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  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    91 days
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  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    152 days
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Perameles gunnii is a solitary marsupial that only emerges from it's nest at dusk, or when it is threatened. When it is disturbed it makes a lot of noise, snuffling, sqeaking, and hissing trying to make the danger go away. It can move extremely fast, galloping along jumping a meter at a time. It is also known to be very aggressive. Since it is nocturnal and solitary, the Eastern Barred Bandicoot really only forages for food and breeds. The only time that an Eastern Barred Bandicoot will intermix with others of the same species is when it is breeding season and they are looking for a mate. Most of the day is spent resting in nests, which are usually no more than a shallow depression in the ground with a dome of grass pulled over the top. Only one adult bandicoot occupies a nest.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot eats small vertebrates, a variety of invertebrates, and some vegetation. Their main diet, however, consists of invertebrates from the soil. They use their well developed sense of smell to locate food. They then use strong claws and their long slender nose to dig small conical holes in the ground from which their food is extracted. Food items include root-eating grubs, cockchafers, and corbies. They also feed on earthworms, beetles, and some plant material such as roots and berries. A study in Australia reported a high number of berries in the Eastern Barred Bandicoot's diet. Perameles gunnii is nocturnal. After dusk it emerges from its nest and immediately begins foraging for food.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Perameles gunnii is in such danger of extiction now that the benefit to humans is slim to none. They do in fact eat beetles, grubs, and similar invertebrates that can potentially harm crops and fields

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are very few to no negative affects on humans.

Conservation Status

The wild population of Perameles gunnii remains critically endangered and is estimated at between 300 and 400 animals. The wild population of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot has declined due to grazing by Eastern Grey Kangaroos, introduction of predators, and extensive habitat alteration. This has occured over 99% of native grasslands in which the species formerly occured. The introduction of predators, particularly cats and foxes, is now a direct threat to all populations of bandicoots and bilbies. Use of pesticides has contributed to the decline in numbers. Accidents with motor vehicles also play a part. The current recovery team for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot comprises representatives from the Department of Natural Resources and Enviornment, Zoological Parks and Gardens Board of Victoria. This group oversees a field and a captive management group. This group has maintained up to 18 breeding pairs of bandicoots maintained in six sub-populations. The captive program has continued to be productive with positive growth rates and 95.6% of wild source gene diversity retained.

Other Comments

The lifespan of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot is less than 3 years. Cats and dogs kill bandicoots, and may cause significant mortality in some populations. Cats carry the disease Toxoplasmosis, which can be transmitted to Eastern Barred Bandicoots and is often fatal. Molecular investigation indicates that the mainland and Tasmanian populations of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot are as distinct genetically as defined sub-species.

Contributors

Eric Lancaster (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

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

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.

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.

sexual

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

tactile

uses touch to communicate

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.

References

"The Bandicoot Zone" (On-line). Accessed October 11, 1999 at http://members.tripod.com/Tamsin_Hazelwood/bandicoot.html.

"Wildlife of Tasmania: Eastern Barred Bandicoot" (On-line). Accessed October 9,1999 at http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/wildlife/mammals/bandicoot.html.

Grzimek, B. 1990. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals Vol. 1. pg. 300-305: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co..

Myroniuk, P. Eastern Barred Bandicoot, Perameles gunnii.

Myroniuk, P. "Eastern Barred Bandicoot, Perameles gunnii" (On-line). Accessed October 9, 1999 at http://www.arazpa.org.au/ebb.htm..

Vaughan, T., J. Ryan, N. Czaplewski. June 1999. Mammalogy. Philadelphia, PA.: Saunders College Publishing.