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Spiny Bandicoots: Peroryctidae

Rufous Spiny Bandicoot (echymipera Rufescens): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Rufous spiny bandicoots have a total head and body length of about 12 to 16 inches (30 to 41 centimeters) and weigh between 1.1 and 4.4 pounds (0.5 to 2.0 kilograms). The short black tail is almost hairless. The fur on their back is coarse, spiky, and reddish brown. The fur on their belly is white. The rufous spiny bandicoot sometimes is called the long-nosed echymipera, the spiny bandicoot, or the rufescent bandicoot.

Geographic range: The rufous spiny bandicoot is the only member of the Peroryctidae family that lives in Australia. There it lives only Rufous spiny bandicoots' favorite food is insects. They dig insects out of the ground with their claws and lap them up with long, thin tongues. (Illustration by Gillian Harris. Reproduced by permission.) on the Cape York Peninsula of Queensland. This animal also lives in western and southeastern New Guinea and the neighboring islands of Kei and Aru.

Habitat: Rufous spiny bandicoots prefer lowland tropical rainforests below an elevation of 3,900 feet (1,200 meters). They occasionally are can be found in open costal woodlands or disturbed grasslands.

Diet: Rufous spiny bandicoots are omnivores, meaning they can eat both plants and animals, but their preferred food is insects. They feed on the ground, digging out insects with their claws and lapping them up with long, thin tongues.

Behavior and reproduction: This bandicoot lives and feeds on the ground and is strictly nocturnal. It digs shallow burrows to rest in during the day. Rufous spiny bandicoots live alone and appear to be territorial.

Very little is known about this animal's reproductive cycle. Some scientists believe that this species breeds year round in New Guinea and seasonally in Australia, but not enough animals have been studied to form firm conclusions. Litters usually consist of from one to three young that are carried in the mother's pouch until they mature.

Rufous spiny bandicoots and people: Native peoples of New Guinea hunt these bandicoots for food.

Conservation status: The rufous spiny bandicoot appears to be common to abundant within its very limited range, especially in Australia. However, the small number of places in which this species is found has become cause for concern among conservationists. ∎



Finney, Tim F. Mammals of New Guinea, 2nd ed. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995.

Menkhorst, Frank. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia, 2nd ed. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/marsupialia/marsupialia.peramelidae.echymipera.html (accessed on June 30, 2004).

Web sites:

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. "Family Peroryctidae."Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu (accessed on June 30, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsSpiny Bandicoots: Peroryctidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Rufous Spiny Bandicoot (echymipera Rufescens): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, SPINY BANDICOOTS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS