Echymipera rufescenslong-nosed echymipera

Geographic Range

Echymipera rufescens, commonly known as the long-nosed echymipera or the long-nosed bandicoot, is native to the Australian biogeographic region. The entire range of E. rufescens includes Papua New Guinea (across the island of New Guinea to the D'Entrecasteaux Islands), eastern Indonesia (the islands of Misool and Yapen, the Aru Islands, and the Kai Islands), and northeastern Australia (Cape York Peninsula of Queensland).

There are two subspecies of long-nosed echymiperas; E.r. rufescens occupies eastern Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and E.r. australis occupies northeastern Australia. (Leary, et al., 2008; Shevill and Johnson, 2008; Wilson and Reeder, 2005)


Long-nosed echymiperas are generally found at elevations of 0 to 2100 m. They are commonly associated with near-coastal regions and large tracts of forest. Echymipera rufescens rufescens is associated with moist lowland tropical forests and grasslands next to closed forests, whereas E.r. australis is associated with semi-evergreen mesophyll vine closed forests, gallery forests, and layered open forests.

Long-nosed echymiperas have also been recorded in heath and grassy woodlands, but these were near closed forests, so the presence of E. rufescens may have been due to association with edge habitat. (Gordon and Lawrie, 1977; Leary, et al., 2008; Shevill and Johnson, 2008; Westerman, et al., 2012)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 2100 m
    0.00 to 6889.76 ft

Physical Description

The head and body length of long-nosed echymiperas ranges from 200 to 500 mm, and the tail length ranges from 50 to 125 mm. They weigh between 500 and 2250 g. Males are larger than females, weighing between 700 and 2225 g. Females weigh between 550 to 1200 g.

The fur of long-nosed echymiperas is dark brown above and cream colored below. They have a rufescent coloration on the rump and a black tail. The tail is almost naked, but the body is covered in short spiny hairs that are over 0.5 mm wide. They have short rounded ears and an elongated snout. The genera Echymipera and Rhynchomeles have the longest rostrums of all bandicoots. Members of these two genera have four pairs of upper incisors, unlike other bandicoots which possess five pairs. All members of the family Peramelidae possess three pairs of lower incisors. The first digit of the hind foot of long-nosed echymiperas is longer than that of other bandicoots. The second and third digit of the hind foot are syndactylous. (Gordon and Hulber, 1989; Hulbert, et al., 1971; Nowak, 1991; Shevill and Johnson, 2008)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    500 to 2225 g
    17.62 to 78.41 oz
  • Range length
    250 to 625 mm
    9.84 to 24.61 in


Little is known regarding the mating system of long-nosed echymiperas. (Shevill and Johnson, 2008)

Reproductive information is available for the subspecies Echymipera rufescens australis. The breeding season of E.r. australis is short. Females are ready to breed between November and May, and breeding occurs during the peak rainfall of the northern wet season. Eighty to 100 % of females carry young in their pouch between January and March. Young remain in the pouch for 65 days. Females produce 1 to 2 litters each breeding season, with each litter consisting of 1 to 4 young. Female body mass is positively correlated with litter size. Compared to other species of bandicoots, E.r. australis carry young in their pouch for a longer period of time and have a shorter breeding season. This results in a lower reproductive output than other species. (Shevill and Johnson, 2008)

  • Breeding interval
    Long-nosed bandicoots breed 1 to 2 times during each breeding season.
  • Breeding season
    Long-nosed bandicoots breed between November and May during the peak rainfall of the northern wet season.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 4
  • Average number of offspring

Young long-nosed bandicoots are born underdeveloped and move to the pouch directly after birth. They remain in their mother's pouch for 65 days. (Shevill and Johnson, 2008)

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


The lifespan of long-nosed echymiperas is unknown, but one captive individual lived for 2 years and 9 months. (Nowak, 1991)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    2.9 (high) years


Long-nosed echymiperas are nocturnal. They make their den in shallow burrows at a depth of about 0.5 m. These burrows are 2 to 3 sq m in size and have two openings. (Shevill and Johnson, 2008)

  • Range territory size
    0.01 to 0.02 km^2

Home Range

The home range of the subspecies Echymipera rufescens australis is 1 to 2 ha. (Shevill and Johnson, 2008)

Communication and Perception

Long-nosed echymiperas do not make loud vocalizations. (Gordon and Hulber, 1989)

Food Habits

Long-nosed echymiperas are omnivorous. Echymipera rufescens australis fill the foraging niche of a medium-sized terrestrial mammalian frugivore, which has few Australian representatives. They are more frugivorous than other species of bandicoots. Their diet consists of 27.12% fruit and seeds, 25.56% invertebrates, 18.89% fungi, and 18.19% dicots. Roots, soil, monocots, and vertebrates also make up a minimal part of their diet.

The main species of fruit and seeds consumed are Pandanus zea and Alpinia caerulea. Three genera of fungi primarily consumed are Cortinarius, Glomus, and Hysterangium. The main invertebrates consumed are Coleoptera, but Blattodea and Orthoptera are also eaten. Long-nosed echymiperas also consume plants such as Canarium, Euroschinus falcate, Solanum viridifolium, and Pisonia umbellifera.

Echymipera rufescens australis shows seasonality in diet choice. Fruit consumption is low in the early dry season, fungi consumption is high and invertebrate consumption is low in the late dry season, and fungi consumption is low in the early wet season. (Nowak, 1991; Shevill and Johnson, 2008)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • Other Foods
  • fungus


Natural predators of long-nosed echymipera are currently unknown.

Ecosystem Roles

Echymipera rufescens australis may act as a seed disperser for plants such as Pandanus zea and as a fungus disperser because of their diet. Seeds and spores are found in their feces. Long-nosed echymiperas also host parasites, such as fleas (Parastyvalius novaeguineae). (Shevill and Johnson, 2008)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • fleas Parastyvalius novaeguineae

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Echymipera rufescens rufescens is hunted by humans for their meat. (Leary, et al., 2008)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of long-nosed echymiperas on humans.

Conservation Status

The IUCN Red List classifies Echymipera rufescens as a species of least concern. Overall, populations of E. rufescens are declining, and they are uncommon. Echymipera rufescens rufescens is threatened by overhunting and habitat destruction. Echymipera rufescens australis is not hunted, and is not currently threatened. (Leary, et al., 2008)


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



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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


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

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.


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


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


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


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


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


Gordon, G., A. Hulber. 1989. Fauna of Australia Volume 1B. Canberra: AGPS. Accessed March 01, 2012 at

Gordon, G., B. Lawrie. 1977. The rufescent bandicoot, Echymipera rufescens (Peters & Doria) on Cape York Peninsula. Australian Wildlife Research, 5: 41-45.

Hulbert, A., G. Gordon, T. Dawson. 1971. Rediscovery of the marsupial Echymipera rufescens in Australia. Nature, 231: 330-331. Accessed February 17, 2012 at

Leary, T., D. Wright, S. Hamilton, R. Singadan, J. Menzies, F. Bonaccorso, K. Helgen, L. Seri, A. Allison, J. Winter, K. Aplin, C. Dickman, L. Salas. 2008. "Echymipera rufescens" (On-line). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed February 29, 2012 at

Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Shevill, D., C. Johnson. 2008. Diet and breeding of the rufous spiny bandicoot Echymipera rufescens australis, Iron Range, Cape York Peninsula. Australian Mammalogy, 29: 169-175. Accessed February 17, 2012 at

Westerman, M., B. Kear, K. Aplin, R. Meredith, C. Emerling, M. Springer. 2012. Phylogenetic relationships of living and recently extinct bandicoots based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 62: 97-108. Accessed February 24, 2012 at

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 2005. Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Accessed March 29, 2012 at