Greater Bilby

Martin Harvey; Gallo Images/Corbis |

The greater bilby is also called the rabbit bandicoot. It is a burrowing marsupial with a hopping gait similar to that of a rabbit.

It builds burrows to a depth of about six feet (2 m), where it rests during the day when temperatures soar.

When it sleeps, it squats on its rear legs, using its tail for balance, tucks its head between its legs, and covers its eyes with its long ears.

At night the greater bilby comes out to forage for ants, termites, beetles, insect larvae, seeds, fruit, and some herbs.

Typically solitary, it sometimes forms colonies.

Although once distributed over most of southern Australia, populations are now sparse due to habitat loss, predation by exotic species, the fur trade, and ranching.

Animal Facts

Name: Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis)

Family: Thylacomyidae (Bilbies)

Range: Northern Territory, Queensland, and western Australia

Habitat: Arid regions

Diet: Insects, insect larvae, some plant material, and small vertebrates

Head and Body Length: 8 to 22 inches (20 to 55 cm)

Tail Length: 4.5 to 11 inches (11.5 to 27.5 cm)

Weight: 0.7 to 3.5 pounds (0.3 to 1.6 kg)

Life Cycle: Mating March to May; gestation about 14 days, one to three young born that stay in mother's pouch about 75 days

Description: Blue-gray on top; white underneath; soft, silky fur; huge ears; long nose; powerful forearms; long back feet; tricolored tail (blue-gray, black, and white)

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Major Threat: Habitat loss; invasive species

What Can I Do?: Visit the Australian Wildlife Conservancy for information on how you can help.