The Long-nosed Bandicoot (Perameles nasuta) isn’t classified as a threatened species, but I fear it’s only a matter of time before they suffer the same fate as so many other similar sized mammals. Foxes and cats, both of which are known to prey on bandicoots, are so numerous and ubiquitous across our landscapes that our delightful little marsupials live constantly on the brink.
This species once occurred across the higher rainfall areas of these ranges, but along with its native habitat, has disappeared from most of the region. Small numbers of Long-nosed Bandicoots still occur in some riparian and wetland areas and larger patches of forest where there is dense ground-layer vegetation. Dense patches of Bracken-fern and swords of tussock grasses, sedges and rushes provide ideal cover for bandicoots, as do dense infestations of blackberry.
About 74% of the native vegetation in the Strathbogie Ranges – forest, woodland and wetland – has been cleared in the last 150 years. Wetland and riparian vegetation, critical bandicoot habitat, once covered 15-20% of the Strathbogie Tabeland, but is now much reduced. Most of the bandicoot habitat that remains and has some long-term security occurs in the Strathbogie Forest. The remnant native vegetation outside the Strathbogie Forest is made up of smaller, fragmented patches occurring on either steep, rocky sites, or spring-soaks and swamps, all unsuitable for agriculture.
The above map shows Long-nosed Bandicoot records from the last 60-odd years and might suggest the species is still widespread. But breaking down the records into decades (below) suggests a different story. The first official records occurred in the 1970s – 9 records, 1980s – 12 records, 1990s – 10 records, 2000s – 2 records, 2010s – 4 records. Of course, these numbers don’t reflect actual populations size or extent, but the trend suggests bandicoots are generally scarce and perhaps getting scarcer. The increased survey effort from trailcam use in the last few years (for example here) and a generally more environmentally aware human population should mean higher numbers of bandicoot records, if there were plenty around, but it hasn’t, adding strength to the conclusion that they are becoming scarcer .
If you see a bandicoot and can get a photo, be it on your property or, more likely, a road-kill, please report it. Let a government wildlife officer know, upload it to iNaturalist or give it to someone that can (I’m happy to help), or inform your Landcare group. Because they are seen so infrequently, all bandicoot records are valuable.
Key for bandocoot survival is dense ground-layer vegetation that allows them easy passage, but stops or slows down cats and foxes. They dig in the ground for food – invertebrates and fungi – and are important for the functioning of forest ecosystems. Their digging turns over large amounts of forest litter and soil and they help disperse the spores of our native truffles and other fungi.
Bandicoots don’t dig burrows, but fashion nests of dry grass and leaf litter, in a shallow depressions amongst dense vegetation. Not that this is guaranteed protection; when out foraging, often in open areas, bandicoots are particularly vulnerable to ambush, which cats and to a lesser extent foxes, are masters of. As with so many of our native animals, ‘neat and tidy’ represents poor bandicoot habitat. To attract and protect these shy but gorgeous little marsupials, keep some areas of long grass, bracken fern, sedges and rushes along streams and around spring soaks – messy nature is good!
Our forests, streams and farms would be much the poorer were these unique marsupials to disappear from our region.
Other bandicoot stories on Strathbogie Ranges Nature View: