PARK WATCH Article December 2023 |
Meghan Lindsay shines a light on the Southern Brown Bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus obesulus)
Southern Brown Bandicoots, or should we say Bandi-cutes, are small, endangered marsupials. They live in areas with dense, low-lying plants across southern Victoria, including Western Port Woodlands, Wilsons Promontory National Park, Cranbourne and Grampians/Gariwerd National Park.
They are threatened by habitat destruction, introduced predators like cats and foxes and busy roads which isolate populations and kill individuals. A lack of foxes in Tasmania could be one of the reasons that Southern Brown Bandicoots are prevalent in larger numbers there.
Southern Brown Bandicoots are 40-50cm long with round ears, a pointy nose, a big round bum, a short furry tail and big strong claws. In Victoria they can produce up to three litters a year and live for about four years. These bandicoots use their strong claws to move nearly four metric tonnes of soil per year in their search for delicious insects and fungi. By moving such a huge amount of soil, they increase nutrient turn over and improve water penetration – they are mini composters!
In some areas, they use dense infestations of blackberry to hide from predators and nest in. This poses a challenge for land managers wanting to remove this weed of national significance. Land managers must slowly remove it bit by bit and replace it with bandicoot friendly native alternatives.