Eastern Barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii)
VCE Environmental Science Unit 3 Ecological Issues: Area of Study 2: Biodiversity
SAC:3 Outcome 2: Case study of a threatened species
Eastern Barred Bandicoot
Species: P. gunnii
Subspecies: unnamed subspecies
Status: Extinct in the wild
Location: Three protected reintroduced
sites in Victorian Grasslands
An Eastern barred bandicoot is a small marsupial,
which weighs on average, approximately 640
grams, with a body length of roughly 300
millimetres and a 110 millimetre long tail.
It has a slim extended head narrowing into a pink
nose and a well whiskered muzzle, with large
protruding ears. The bandicoot gets its name
from the light stripes across its rear. The belly, tail
and feet are all white in colour while the rest of
its body is covered with soft greyish brown fur.
It has long clawed forefeet which are used to dig
Eastern barred bandicoots are omnivores. They
mostly eat invertebrates from the soil such as root-
eating grubs like cockchafers and corbies. Although
they are not only restricted to eating invertebrates
from the soil as they also eat beetles, earthworms,
berries, fungi and plant material. The bandicoot has
an extremely strong smell which helps it to locate
its food. Once it finds its food it uses its claws and
pointed nose to dig small narrow holes, where they
extract their food from. They don’t need to drink
since they get enough water from their food.
Breeding and behaviour
• Despite the high reproductive rate, the death rate, particularly for adolescents is extremely high.
Predators and diseases seem to be the main causes of death although the reasons for mortality
are not well known. The Eastern Barred Bandicoot has a life span of up to 6 years although in the
wild it generally only survives between 1 and 3 years.
• Throughout the day the Eastern Barred Bandicoot rests in its nest, which is generally a low hole in
the ground with grass dragged across the top. They are nocturnal, appearing after dusk, where
they begin scavenging for food. Bandicoots only ever mix when breeding.
A female Eastern Barred Bandicoot can produce
up to 4 young in a litter, producing between 3
and 4 litters a year. (So they could have a
maximum of 16 young in one year.) Between
late may and early December the bandicoots
give birth to their young.
Characteristics that leave this species exposed to threats
• This species is exposed to threat because it is small, which contributes to it being
slow making predators catch and kill it very easily. Also because the Eastern
Barred Bandicoot is on its own until mating it doesn’t have any one their to help
back up, support and look out for it like animals which stay in packs do. Also by
having low nests in the ground other animals which are predators such as foxes
can easily sniff out and find the bandicoot.
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information on it, so I basically
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• Habitat is the natural environment of an animal, plant or other
organism. The original native habitat for an Eastern Barred
Bandicoot was primarily native perennial tussock grasslands with
dispersed open wood lands and shrub cover, particularly along
watercourses. Now the Eastern Barred Bandicoot is only found in
South-eastern Australia. In Tasmania the Eastern Barred
Bandicoot is still widely dispersed, being found both in the east
and north of the state, although, numbers have reduced and are
still reducing, mainly due to destruction of habitat.
An assessment of its significance in its ecosystem(what is it’s niche or role? Does it
provide any ecosystem services, biological resources and/or social benefits?)
• I’m unsure what to put on this. Is it about it’s role in the food chain?
Genetic population and species
• Bandicoot numbers have declined so drastically that it is believed there is only one
population of Eastern Barred Bandicoots in the wild (natural occurring population) of
roughly five animals left in existence. This very small population is known as functionally
extinct. With such a small population size there is also a high chance of inbreeding.
Inbreeding generally causes a growth in the number of individuals which are
homozygous for a trait, therefore increasing the appearance of recessive traits. These
recessive traits can be huge negatives, causing health problems.
• Due to captive breeding and re-introduction programs there are now approximately
2,000 Eastern Barred Bandicoots in a few locations which are heavily managed to
National conservation status: Under the Commonwealth Environment Protection Biodiversity
Conservation Act 1999 the Eastern Barred Bandicoot is listed as endangered. This means the bandicoot is
threatened with extinction.
Victorian conservation status: Under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 the Eastern
Barred bandicoot is classified as being threatened. This means it is likely that in the near future it will
become an endangered species.
According to DSE’s Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate
Fauna in Victoria (in 2003) stated the Bandicoot was
critically endangered in Victoria. This means the Eastern
Barred Bandicoot is facing an exceptionally high risk of
becoming extinct in the wild.
In Tasmania, Eastern Barred Bandicoots are faring much
better than in Victoria, mostly due to the absence of foxes.
This status has continued to change as more and more of
native grassland (habitat) is being destroyed.
What threatens the bandicoot?
• Prior to the arrival of European’s in Tasmania the Eastern Barred Bandicoot mainly existed in native grasslands
and grassy woodlands of the Midlands. Now the bandicoot has mainly disappeared from the Midlands area
due to being cleared for agriculture and grazing (over 99% of the state which was suitable bandicoot habitat
• Clearing land on mainland Australia also contributed to the radical decline of the Eastern barred bandicoot.
This is due to the clearing of remnant native bush and weeds (ground cover) as it has the potential to change
habitat which is prime for bandicoots into an area where the species cannot possibly survive, such as
wasteland. Reduction in rainfall caused by climate change also contributed to the reduction in Eastern Barred
Bandicoots, as they have more food and survive better in moist, damp habitats. The predation by introduced
species, the fox (European Red Fox) also contributed to the decline as well cats and dogs as they kill and eat
the Eastern Barred Bandicoots. Cats kill Eastern Barred Bandicoots, especially juveniles, although the impact
on the population is no where as severe as foxes. Inbreeding is another huge threat to the Eastern Barred
Bandicoot as it minimises genetic diversity and can cause health problems.
• The Eastern Barred Bandicoots main competitor is rabbits as they eat both eat plant materials (similar foods).
Previous management actions
Wild Population Management at Hamilton
Investigation in the 1970’s showed a massive decline in the species range and abundance across the range had
occurred. The population was studied in 1980 by Brown and in the same year an active management for
bandicoot conservation started, with the aim being to develop and improve habitat for the Eastern Barred
Bandicoot. Work in Hamilton commenced to develop and extend habitat by purchasing land and providing
sections of habitat as well as hard shelters. In order to control predators trapping, shooting and promotion of
responsible pet ownership were all attempted. Information sessions for community members were held and
brochures were given out to inform them of what was happening and what they could do in order to prevent
the reduction in numbers of Eastern Barred Bandicoots. Despite everything that happened and was attempted
to save the Eastern Barred Bandicoots in Hamilton the range and total population size declined. It got to a
point where it was decided successfully recovering the Bandicoots in Hamilton wasn’t possible and the wild
population (which was able to be caught) was decided to be relocated to the Woodlands Historic Park.
Captive breeding and re-introduction program
Mainland Eastern Barred Bandicoots were at the edge of extinction and an intensive captive breeding and re-introduction program brought them
back. The captive breeding program run by zoo’s Victoria supplements wild populations with animals which are captive bred. It also works closely
with the recovery team in order to bring this species back from the edge.
In 1992 zoos Victoria assumed responsibility for captive breeding and switched to intensively managed facilities to breed bandicoots for re-
introduction. Since then Eastern Barred Bandicoots have been bred for the recovery program at the three Zoos Victoria properties (Healesville
Sanctuary, Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Zoo).
Due to the program there are now approximately 2,000 Eastern Barred Bandicoots in a few locations which are heavily managed to eliminate
Eastern Barred Bandicoots were first reintroduced into large fenced enclosures, resulting in the establishment of two semi-wild populations.
• Through the Wild Futures program, Conservation Volunteers Australia is working in partnership
with Parks Victoria at Woodlands Historic Park and Serendip Sanctuary, Department of
Sustainability & Environment Communities for Nature, Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Centre and the
Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team to create secure areas where these bandicoots can
flourish in their native grassland habitat.
• A population of Eastern Barred Bandicoot’s were established at Mt Rothwell Sanctuary with the
help of FAME (Foundation for Australia’s most Endangered Species). In order for Eastern Barred
Bandicoots to recover in numbers areas of their natural habitat will need to be protected from
Strategies which have been recommended to reduce threats
• Bandicoots are often killed by cats and dogs, often causes significant mortality in
a few populations. Cats can carry a fatal disease Toxoplasmosis and it can be
transported to Eastern Barred Bandicoots consequently killing them.
• Simply by keeping pets inside at night we can minimise the number of wildlife
killed by our pets. Keeping cats inside would mean they are less likely to give
wildlife such as the Eastern Barred Bandicoot the fatal disease. Also by stopping
dogs from wandering they will have a significantly lower chance of taking
bandicoots from their nests during the day.
Strategies that have been used or
recommended to reduce the threats
and their effectiveness
• Zoos and wildlife sanctuary's have created safe and secure areas where Eastern Barred
Bandicoots can flourish in their native grassland habitat. In 2012 the Woodlands
Historic Park finished an exclusion fence and know its focus is on eradicating pests,
maintaining the fence and enclosure (removal of invasive weed species and planting of
native grasses) to ensure the Eastern Barred Bandicoots are safe. This strategy wasn’t
successful at the beginning. There were five reintroduction sites which have now the
population have become extinct due to presence of foxes. The Woodlands Historic Park
was one site this happened to and it did have a predator barrier fence, although
unfortunately it didn’t exclude all foxes. But now with more secure habitats in better
locations (minimal presence of foxes), this program is seen as successful.
Objectives and intended management actions
Objective 1-Establish and monitor self-sustaining reintroduced populations
Action Targets Responsible
Monitor re-introduced populations • Regularly collect data on re-introduced populations
• Annual report bandicoot survival in relation to
characteristics of site
• Based on the information gathered produce site
• Parks Victoria
• National trust
Compile, maintain and assess
• All monitoring and predator control data stored on a
single database and regularly uploaded.
• Annual reports of recovery effort progress published
on DSE website
DSE South West
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How numbers are estimated
In areas of up to 5 hectares in size the techniques listed below are suitable for detecting the presence of Eastern
• daytime searches for potential habitat resources, such as areas with open grassland in proximity to refuge and
• daytime searches for signs, such as scats, tracks, nests and conical foraging holes
• collection and analysis of predator scats
• soil plot surveys
• hair tube surveys
• cage trapping
• baited camera traps
The Southern Brown Bandicoots range overlaps with the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, so as consequence direct
detection techniques should be used at sites with signs of nesting or foraging so you can distinguish between the
There have been reports from a number of researchers stating cage trapping and hair sampling are unsuccessful,
especially since so much time and effort is required for this. Researchers recommend that for initial detection, time
should be spent focusing on searching for soil plot surveys as well as signs. The most effective method for identifying
Eastern Barred Bandicoots is by using baited camera traps.