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Eastern barred bandicoot

Current status

[Photo of eastern barred bandicoot by H. Wapstra.]

The Eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii) is listed as vulnerable under the national Environment Protection and Biodiversity Protection Act 1999.

However in Tasmania it is not threatened so it is not listed under our Threatened Species Protection Act 1995, as it is not considered at risk.

Why are they threatened?

On the mainland Barred bandicoots are critically endangered. Numbers have declined drastically down to only a single, naturally occurring population of about 5 animals! This population could be described as functionally extinct. Mainland bandicoots have been brought back from the brink of extinction by an intensive captive breeding and re-introduction program. There are now around 2,000 individuals in a handful of sites heavily managed to exclude predators.

In Tasmania, bandicoots are locally common which means they are common in a few areas. However, recently we have learnt that they have disappeared from traditional areas such as the Midlands up to 50 years ago. Latest research indicates that bandicoot numbers have declined statewide since 1992. It was initially assumed this reduction was related to the 1992/3 drought conditions but the bandicoots have not bounced back like expected, despite wetter weather.

Why Tasmania is the last refuge for this bandicoot?

Eastern barred bandicoots remain common in Tasmania because this State is isolated from mainland Australia. This has meant many of the introduced mainland predators have been unable to reach Tasmania. For example the dingo arrived on the mainland about 8,000 years ago and the fox 200 years ago. Both these animals prey on bandicoots but cannot cross Bass Strait and reach Tasmania.

There is only one known population of these bandicoots remaining on the mainland, near Hamilton, Victoria. Fences have been erected to keep cats and foxes away from the bandicoots. In Tasmania cats, cars and loss of habitat would be the main threats to bandicoot survival. Unfortunately, most bandicoots here occur on private land and so are vulnerable to many land management practises. They need native understorey plants to provide shelter, nest sites and food. They come out at night to feed on the pasture pests such as cockchafer beetle grubs. Destruction of their natural habitat (grassy woodlands, native grasslands) and in particular, loss of ground cover required for refuge is the greatest threat to bandicoots. It is important not to slash or burn areas where bandicoots occur.

What is being done?

Bandicoot populations are being monitored and the species encouraged, so that they do not go the way of their mainland counterparts. Their recovery was supported by ANCA (Australia Nature Conservation Agency).

Farmers are seeing the benefits of these species in acting as a natural control on pasture pests and are keeping or replanting native vegetation on erosion prone areas of their farms. The Parks and Wildlife Service is planning to launch Land for Wildlife promoting wildlife on farms later this year. Another strategy is to educate the public about responsible cat ownership, in particular night curfews for cats!

View Distribution Map

Recommended further reading

The Australian Museum 1983. Complete book of Australian Mammals. Ed. R. Strahan. Angus and Robertson.

Driessen M. and G. Hocking 1991. The Eastern barred bandicoot; Recovery Plan. Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania.

Driessen M., S. Mallick and G. Hocking 1996. Habitat of the Eastern barred Bandicoot in Tasmania: Analysis of Road Kills. Wildlife Research in press.

Notesheets available, Parks and Wildlife, Tasmania

Endangered Species: Eastern barred bandicoot.