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Bandicoots and Bilbies: Peramelidae

Behavior And Reproduction

True bandicoots are nocturnal. The exception is the southern brown bandicoot, which is active mainly during the day. Bandicoots are solitary animals, living alone and coming together only to mate.

Bandicoots are territorial animals. The males defend larger territories than the females. They challenge any other male that comes into this area, and will fight if the intruder does not leave. Although females spend all night feeding, males spend part of the night patrolling their territories and marking them with scent to scare off other males.

Female bandicoots can reproduce at about four months of age. A female may mate with several different males. Pregnancy is one of the shortest of all animals—from twelve days to a few weeks.

Like all marsupials, bandicoots do not have a well-developed placenta. A placenta is an organ that grows in the mother's uterus (YOO-ter-us; womb) that allows the developing offspring share the mother's food and oxygen. Most marsupials have what is called a yolk-sac placenta, where there is no sharing of the mother's food and oxygen. Bandicoots and bilbies are different from other marsupials, because they have a second placenta in addition to the yolk-sac placenta. This placenta resembles the placenta in eutherian (yoo-THEER-ee-an) mammals, such as dogs, rabbits, and humans, but does not function as well, because it does not attach as closely to the wall of the mother's uterus.

Young bandicoots, called joeys, are born hairless, blind, and poorly developed. They are about 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) long. They use their front legs to pull themselves into their mother's pouch. There they attach to her teats, or nipples, where they remain for at least several weeks until they are able to survive on their own. After that they may remain in the nest and be fed by the mother for another week or two before becoming completely independent. Rarely do bandicoots have more than four young in a litter, and one or two offspring are more common. The death rate of newborn bandicoots is high. Those that live to adulthood have a lifespan of two to three years. Predators of the bandicoot include red foxes, dingoes (wild dogs), and feral cats (domestic cats that have been turned loose and become wild). Rabbits are their main competitors for food.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsBandicoots and Bilbies: Peramelidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Bandicoots, Bilbies, And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT