THREATENED SPECIES Eastern barred

Perameles gunnii Parks and Wildlife Service DEPARTMENT of TOURISM, PARKS HERITAGE and the ARTS

The is an as many as 16 young in one year! insectivorous found only in Although the eastern barred . bandicoot has a very high reproductive rate, mortality — Is it threatened? particularly among juveniles The eastern barred bandicoot is — is extremely high. The considered threatened because the causes of mortality are not well species is potentially at risk of known, but predators and disease appear becoming extinct. This may to be the main agents. The life-span of seem surprising to many the eastern barred bandicoot is less than Tasmanians, as barred three years. are still common in parts of the state. However, the eastern barred bandicoot is now extinct Lifestyle in South Australia and is ‘critically endangered’ in Eastern barred bandicoots spend their day resting in Victoria. In Tasmania it is listed as ‘requiring nests. These are usually no more than a shallow monitoring’ on the Tasmanian Threatened Species List depression in the ground with a dome of grass pulled 1995. Nationally, the eastern barred bandicoot is over the top. Only one adult bandicoot occupies a classified as vulnerable. nest, although young may share the nest with their mother for a week after they first leave the pouch. What does it look like? After dusk barred bandicoots emerge and immediately The eastern barred bandicoot has a slender, elongated begin foraging for food. Bandicoots are solitary head tapering to a pink nose and well whiskered and only mix with others when breeding. muzzle. It has large, prominent ears. Its soft fur is greyish brown, while across the hindquarters are the What do they eat? characteristic pale bars or stripes that give the species Barred bandicoots mainly eat invertebrates from the its name. The belly, feet and short, thin tail are creamy soil. They locate their food using their well developed white. sense of smell. Then they use their strong claws and pointed nose to dig small conical holes from which Other bandicoots in Tasmania they extract food. Their favourite food items include In Tasmania there is only one other species of root-eating grubs such as cockchafers and corbies. bandicoot, the , Isoodon They also feed on beetles, , berries and obesulus. The southern brown bandicoot is easily fungi. distinguished from the eastern barred bandicoot as its fur is dark brown and rather coarse to touch. Its Why is it threatened? muzzle, ears and hindfeet are shorter than those of the Loss of habitat is one of the greatest threats to barred eastern barred bandicoot, and its tail is dark brown. bandicoot survival. It is important that we preserve areas of natural habitat and understorey plants. Life history Introduced predators such as dogs and cats are another Eastern barred bandicoots have a remarkable life threat to bandicoots. history. They have one of the highest breeding rates of Clearing native habitat any of their size; indeed, their gestation period Before Europeans arrived in Tasmania, the eastern (the time from conception to birth) is one of the barred bandicoot mainly lived in the native grasslands shortest recorded for any — 12 days! In and grassy woodlands of the Midlands. These habitats Tasmania, young are born between late May and were the first to be cleared for agriculture and grazing. December. During a single breeding season a female The eastern barred bandicoot has now largely may produce 3-4 litters with a litter size of 1-4 young. disappeared from the Midlands region. Thus a female bandicoot can potentially give birth to A similar process of large-scale clearing (as well as People predation by introduced foxes) was also responsible People have misconceptions about barred bandicoots. for the drastic decline of this species on mainland Many people confuse this animal with the rabbit, Australia. thinking that it eats grass and is therefore a problem on farms and in some gardens. Actually bandicoots In the absence of foxes, selective clearing in are quite beneficial as they eat the grubs which eat the Tasmania’s southeast and north has provided suitable roots of grasses. Although bandicoots dig in agricultural habitats for the barred Tasmanian distribution of garden lawns they are removing grass eating bandicoot to colonise. These areas the eastern barred grubs. We suggest these diggings are a small of improved pasture interspersed bandicoot price to pay for the pleasure of having a with patches of native bush are now native marsupial living on your doorstep! the stronghold of the species in Tasmania. Barred bandicoots also use Foxes a variety of weeds, including Should the fox become established in European gorse and blackberries, as Tasmania this species will be at great risk of nesting sites and as a refuge from extinction. predators. Loss of groundcover How can you help? While eastern barred bandicoots are still To preserve Tasmania’s eastern barred bandicoot quite common in some parts of Tasmania, there we need to preserve its habitat and keep the fox out is good reason for caution. Widespread clearing of of Tasmania. If you have barred bandicoots near your remnant native bush, and also the removal of ground home or on the farm, be aware of what this little cover including some weeds, can convert prime animal needs to survive. If you are planning to clear barred bandicoot habitat into a wasteland in which the ground-cover, even if this is only weeds, be aware that species cannot survive. This occurred over much of barred bandicoots may be dependent on this cover for the midlands. We recommend that as much native survival. And if it has to go, then think seriously about bush be preserved as possible. The margins of such replacing it with native shrubs. bushland with pasture provide excellent refuges for bandicoots. An eastern barred bandicoot recovery team, consisting of community representatives, guides recovery Also, where weeds such as gorse and blackberries actions. Community cooperation is essential in provide cover for bandicoots, we suggest these be implementing these actions. retained where possible. However, if these weeds are a serious problem and have to be removed on a large Further information scale, we suggest replanting of native species to preserve barred bandicoot habitat. This should be Driessen, M. M. & Hocking, G. J. (1992). The eastern done prior to weed removal. The best native plants for barred bandicoot recovery plan for Tasmania: providing cover for bandicoots are low-growing, Research phase. PWS, Tasmania. shrubby species which form a dense shelter at ground Seebeck, J. H., Brown, P. R., Wallis R. L. & Kemper, level. Species of Acacia, Grevillia, Hakea and Correa C. M. (1990). Bandicoots and Bilbies. Surrey Beatty are ideal. and Sons, Sydney. Cats and dogs Driessen, M. M., Mallick, S. A. & Hocking, G. J. Cats and dogs kill bandicoots, and may cause (1996). Habitat of the eastern barred bandicoot in significant mortality in some populations. Cats carry Tasmania: an analysis of road-kills. Wildlife Research the disease , which can be transmitted in press. to eastern barred bandicoots and is often fatal. We can reduce the impact of our pets on wildlife by keeping pets indoors at night. This stops them hunting when Contact barred bandicoots are out feeding in the open. Nature Conservation Branch: DPIWE Preventing your dog from roaming means it has less 134 Macquarie Street, Hobart. 7000 opportunity to flush bandicoots from their nests Phone: (03) 6233 6556 during the day. Fax: (03) 6233 3477

FURTHER INFORMATION Head Office: 134 Macquarie Street Hobart TAS 7000 Internet: www.parks.tas.gov.au Phone: 1300 135 513 December 2003 © State of Tasmania