The Greater Bilby

A bilby is a kind of bandicoot.

It has a black tail with a white tip.

Bilbies eat insects and fruit.

They have with greyish fur and ears a bit like a rabbit's.

Some people say Easter Bilby brings Easter eggs in Australia, not Easter Bunny!

The Greater Bilby is a small Australian marsupial. It is a kind of bandicoot.
It is also known as the Rabbit-eared Bandicoot, Greater Bandicoot, or Dalgite.

Habitat and Distribution (where they are found)
The Greater Bilby is found in small, scattered spots in the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory, and in the Great Sandy Desert, Pilbara and Kimberley areas of Western Australia. These are hot, dry areas of Australia.

The Bilby's habitat is spinifex, or grass shrubland.


Diet
Because there is little surface water in places where bilbies live, the animals get their moisture from their food. They eat insects such as termites, as well as seeds, fruit and fungi.

Features and behaviours
Size: approx. 400 mm, and a tail of 250 mm
The fur is long and silky, silvery grey in colour. The underside (tummy and chest) is white. The Bilby has a long tail that is black with a long white tip. The ears are long and pointed, covered with fine fur. Big ears like this help give the animal excellent hearing, which helps it find prey. An excellent sense of smell also helps it find food. The eyes are round, dark, and big, but the Bilby has poor eyesight. The Bilby has a long muzzle that tapers to a pointed, pink nose.

The toes on its front feet have slightly curved claws. On the hind feet, the second and third toes are partially joined and the fourth toe is much larger.

Bilbies are nocturnal animals, which means they are active at night, when it is cooler. They are generally alone.

They have strong front legs and claws for digging for food and for excavating their deep burrows. Bilbies usually make a number of burrows within their territory.

The females have rear-opening pouches so the pouch does not fill with soil when they dig.

 Life Cycle
The females generally give birth to two young at a time. Like all marsupials, the young are born after a very short pregnancy, so they are tiny and hardly developed. They move into the mother's pouch, where they stay as they grow and finish their development. They drink milk produced by their mother. The young stay in the pouch for about 75 days, after which they are kept in a nesting burrow.

Conservation status
Bilbies are classified as Vulnerable in Australia (but are endangered in the state of Queensland) because they have to compete for food with introduced animals such as rabbits and cattle. Cattle also trample their burrows. Bilbies are preyed on by foxes.

There are now attempts to re-introduce the Bilby into areas where it used to thrive.

An extinct bilby?
The Lesser Bilby, the other of the two species, or kinds, of bilby, is thought to be extinct, as none has been seen since 1931.



More information about the Greater Bilby:

http://www.arazpa.org.au/Bilby/default.aspx

http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/bilby.html

Acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
Bilby. (2000). [Online], Available: www.kidcyber.com.au

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Updated September 2007