Bandicoot, Golden

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Bandicoot, golden

Isoodon auratus

phylum: Chordata

class: Mammalia

order: Marsupialia

family: Peramelidae

status: Vulnerable, IUCN

range: Australia

Description and biology

The golden bandicoot belongs to the order of mammals known as marsupials, whose young continue to develop after birth in a pouch on the outside of the mother's body. The animal's coarse fur is a mixture of yellow-orange and dark brown hairs, giving it a golden appearance. It has a long, tapering snout and short, rounded ears. An average golden bandicoot measures 9 to 19 inches (23 to 48 centimeters) from the top of its head to the end of its body and weighs about 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms). Its tail is 3 to 8 inches (8 to 20 centimeters) long.

Golden bandicoot are nocturnal (active at night). During the day, they remain in their nests built on the ground, in a hollow, or in a rock pile. At night, the very quick, agile, and aggressive animals search for their diet of insects and worms. Golden bandicoot are solitary animals, so males and females come together only to mate. The female usually gives birth to a litter of four after a gestation (pregnancy) period of almost

two weeks. The young golden bandicoot remain in their mother's pouch for up to eight weeks.

Habitat and current distribution

Golden bandicoot once ranged across one-third of Australia, mainly in grassland habitats. They are now found in a small part of the Kimberleys, a plateau region in northeastern Western Australia, and on a few islands off Australia's coast.

History and conservation measures

Scientists and conservationists (people protecting the natural world) are not quite sure why the number of golden bandicoot has decreased. They believe foxes and cats recently allowed into golden bandicoot territory have become predators of the animals. In addition, fires deliberately set by humans to manage grasslands may have destroyed the animals' natural habitat.