Bilbies are the focus at Light Future Art today! Read to discover some fascinating fun facts about these little Australian marsupials.
1. Bilbies live in the desert but they don’t prefer it. They used to reside in over 70% of Australia but development and invasive species have shrunk their habitat over the years. The can be found in the North and Northwest of Australia today.
2. Bilbies are about the same size as rabbits when fully grown and share their same long ears. A nickname for the bilby is the rabbit-bandicoot or the rabbit-eared bandicoot. In Australia, the Easter Bilby is often in place of the Easter Bunny.
3. “Bilby” usually just refers to the greater bilby. There was a lesser bilby, but they are believed to have gone extinct in the 1950s. The greater bilby is endangered because of the same things that have reduced their habitat. Luckily, there are projects underway to protect the bilby.
4. Bilbies are nocturnal. They have poor eyesight, which is not an obstacle at night. They have a keen sense of sound and smell, though, and can easily find their food under the ground.
5. They are omnivores. The typical diet of a bilby is insects (especially termites), larvae, fungi, bulbs, fruit, and seeds. They derive all the water they need from their food and have no need to drink at all.
6. Each bilby digs up to a dozen burrows in their territory. The burrow all have their own entrance and is a useful place to run into in case of danger. The bilbies design their burrows with a spiral formation, which makes it harder for predators to gain entrance.
7. Like other digging marsupials, the pouch of the bilby is positioned facing backward. This is to prevent it from filling with dirt while burrowing.
8. Female bilbies are about half the size of males. Females can grow up to a foot long and a male, a little less than two feet. Their tails are very long, usually adding about a foot to their length. Females weigh around three pounds and males about six.
9. Bilbies are typically solitary animals, only meeting to mate. The bilby gestation period is unusually short: only two weeks. One litter of bilby joeys is often two to four individuals. They spend 10 to 11 weeks in their mother’s pouch and then a few more weeks out of it in the burrow. At this point, they are prepared to be independent.
10. A 15 million-year-old bilby fossil was found in 2014, replacing the previous oldest bilby fossil from five million years ago.
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