THE GREATER BILBY
Welcome to some interesting facts about a creature that is honoured in Australia at Easter. Greater bilbies are commonly known as bilbies due to the lesser bilby now being extinct. They are marsupials found only in Australia and are also called rabbit-eared bandicoots. The Easter Bilby is an Australian alternative to the Easter Bunny.
- Bilbies prefer habitats that are hot and dry like in Central and Western Australia. They live in spiral burrows which makes it more difficult for predators to get in. They prefer grassy areas so that they can move around easily without being detected by predators.
- A bilby will dig a new burrow every couple of weeks and use every one of them.
- Bilbies are nocturnal and will leave their burrows at night to forage for food. Their diet consists of plant bulbs, spiders, termites and grass seeds.
- Bilbies do not need to drink water as they can retain the moisture from their food in their body.
- They have a soft white and grey coat, long ears and a pointed nose. Their thick claws and forelimbs help them dig burrows quickly.
- Male bilbies are roughly the same size as rabbits.
- Female bilbies have a pouch which carries an undeveloped foetus (a joey) until it grows into a juvenile. Their pouches face backwards to prevent dirt getting in whilst digging.
- The bilby is an endangered species because of habitat loss, climate change and competition with other animals. Introduced predators such as foxes and cats have also caused a decrease in population numbers.
- There have been many conservation efforts to save bilbies. This includes captive breeding, population monitoring, creating predator free reserves. Chocolate Easter Bilbies were also introduced as a way to popularise the animal with some profits being donated to bilby protection and conservation research.
- The word bilby comes from the Aboriginal language Yuwaalaraay which means “long-nosed rat.”
- Type: Mammal
- Diet: Omnivore
- Life span: 6-7 years
- Size: Up to 55 cm, tail up to 30cm
- Weight: Up to 2.5kg
- Habitat: Dry and hot with open grassland
- Range: Central and North Western Australia
- Scientific name: Macrotis lagotis
Clancy's comment: Interesting that they build many burrows and use all of them.