The bandicoot family comprises nine species within Australia, two of which are now extinct. Many of the others have disappeared from their former range.
Tasmania has two species of bandicoot:
Tasmania's two species are relatively secure, although the eastern barred bandicoot is critically endangered on mainland Australia. Full details of the plights of these, and other, threatened species can be found at our threatened species site.
Bandicoots possess features which characterise both the carnivorous marsupials (dasyurids) and the herbivorous marsupials such as the macropods (kangaroos and wallabies) and possums. Like carnivorous marsupials, they possess more than two incisors in each jaw, and like the herbivorous marsupials they have the second and third toes of the hindfoot fused together.
Bandicoots are noted for their remarkable breeding biology. They have one of the highest breeding rates of any animal of their size. Their gestation period (the time from conception to birth) is the shortest recorded for any mammal - 12 days! Interestingly, bandicoots (and the koala) possess a rudimentary 'placenta' which allows some degree of nutrient exchange between the blood of the mother and the embryo, as occurs in placental mammals.There are eight teats in the backward opening pouch. However, not all teats are available to new-born young, as those used by the previous litter are too distended to allow attachment. Consequently litter size is usually no more than half the number of teats in the pouch.