A Question of Balance :: 7:30pm 5th Sep 2017
Another cryptic Australian critter: the bandicoot: Professor Peter Banks, from Sydney University, uncovers the world of another unique Australian animal – the bandicoot. Bandicoots are classified by ecologists as critical weight range mammals (between 35g and 5.5kg) which have really suffered since Europeans arrived in Australia, the rabbit-sized bandicoots suffering the worst from fox predation.
Bandicoots are unusual marsupials being between carnivorous marsupials (same type of teeth) and macropod marsupials (macropod fused toes). They also have the shortest gestation period of any mammal, with 12.5days from conception to birth. They can breed twice a year, the very immature babies suckling at a nipple for a number of months before emerging from the pouch and starting to become independent. Female long-nose bandicoots have four nipples but usually have two or three babies.
Bandicoots have unusual social interactions. Although polygamous, male bandicoots tend to hang out together in different locations from the females, even during the breeding season. Bandicoots rest and nest in dense vegetation during the day but like open areas for night foraging, especially recently burnt areas (and lawns!). Introduced predators like foxes and cats are a problem, particularly since they also target burnt areas. Fox baiting does improve bandicoot numbers. Juvenile bandicoots that do survive will generally live for less than a year, some lasting up to three.
Frog Wrangler Time: Dr Arthur White answers several common questions about Australian frogs: Do they have teeth? Why do they have such large bulgy eyes? How long do they live? Do pet frogs need a companion? What can a pet frog be trained to do?