Numbats are the sole members of the family Myrmecobiidae. “Mumbat” is the aborigine name for these small marsupial mammals, otherwise known as banded anteaters. They are slightly larger than rats and weigh about 1 lb (0.5 kg). Considered one of the most attractive marsupials, their general color varies from grayish brown to reddish brown, broken by several prominent white bars across the back and rump. A white-bordered dark stripe passes from the base of each ear through the eye to the snout. The tail length is about 7 in (17.7 cm), and when it is erect and fluffed it looks like a bottle brush.
Numbats are active only in the daytime, and live in shrub woodland and eucalyptus forest. They search fallen branches and logs for termites, which they pick up with their slender, cylindrical, 4-in (10-cm) tongue. Although numbats do not chew their food, their small and widely spaced teeth number between 50 and 52, the largest number of teeth found in any marsupial. Numbats use hollow logs for shelter throughout the year and may dig burrows in the ground to take refuge from the cold. They are solitary for most of the year except when breeding or young are present. Generally, four young are born between January and May,
attaching themselves to the nipples of the female, who lacks the typical marsupial pouch.
Numbats were much more widespread in the past, and now occur only in the southwest portion of western Australia. Destruction of their habitat for agriculture and predation by introduced foxes has contributed to their decline. Despite stabilization of their habitat and fox removal, numbat populations are currently small and scattered. Because they are considered rare and vulnerable, breeding colonies have been established and some captive-bred animals have been returned to suitable habitat in the wild.