Numbat: The Dimunitive Carnivore

By Martin Pot (Martybugs at en.wikipedia), CC BY 3.0, Link

This little creature, also called walputi or banded anteater, is the only surviving member of the Family  Myrmecobiidae. This is one of the four families that make up the order Dasyuromorphia, the Australian marsupial carnivores. It is an endangered species and is protected in Australia.

As you can see in the picture, this animal is small and looks like a squirrel. When first discovered in 1831 by a European expedition, it was described variously as a cat, weasel or squirrel. It subsists entirely on termites and eats up to 20,000 per day. This animal occupied the same niche in Australia that is occupied by ant-eaters in Asia and Africa.

Numbat sketch
By John Gould – John Gould, F.R.S., Mammals of Australia, Vol. I Plate 52, London, 1863., Public Domain, Link

They used to be found all over Australia but have now shrunk in range to only small colonies around the the Dryandra Woodland and the Perup Nature Reserve. There are efforts being made to re-introduce them in small reserves in South Australia and New South Wales.

The only marsupial to be active by day too, these creatures have wide territories that are defended against animals of the same sex. They are usually solitary but come together for mating once a year during February or March.

Unlike other marsupials, the females don’t have a pouch and the young, typically four, attach to the teats when born. They stay locked in place until July or August.

The Numbats are threatened because of loss of habitat due to European habitation and if they are to survive, such efforts like multiple secured territories will be necessary. We hope to see them expand all over the gracious Australian landmass.

Please support the Project Numbat initiative and help make this happen. You can shop for really swanky Numbat memorabilia here.

About mammal 73 Articles
I blog about mammals and all the interesting and fun-filled facts about them will be welcome additions to this blog.

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