Pig-footed Bandicoot - profile

Indicative distribution


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known
predicted
The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Chaeropus ecaudatus
Conservation status in NSW: Presumed Extinct
Commonwealth status: Extinct
Profile last updated: 07 Sep 2017

Description

The Pig-footed Bandicoot was a small marsupial of the arid and semi-arid plains of Australia. The distribution range of the species was later reduced to an inland desert region, where it was last recorded in the 1950s, and is now presumed to be extinct.

It is believed to be the sister group of the rest of the Peramelmorphia and is sometimes assigned to its own family Chaeropodidae.

The Pig-footed Bandicoot had a body size of 23–26 cm and a 10–15 cm long tail. It was almost bilby-like on first sight, having long, slender limbs, large, pointed ears, and a long tail. On closer examination, however, it became apparent that the Pig-footed Bandicoot was very unusual for a marsupial. The forefeet had two functional toes with hoof-like nails, rather similar to a pig or deer. The hind feet had an enlarged fourth toe with a heavy claw shaped like a tiny horse's hoof, with the other toes being vestigial:only the fused second and third toes being useful, and that not for locomotion but for grooming.

It had a broad head, and a long yet slender snout. Its fur was coarse and straight, but not spiny. In color it varied from grizzled grey through fawn to orange-brown, the belly and underparts were white with the fur on the ears being of chestnut color.

This species had five pairs of upper and three pairs of lower incision teeth. The females of the species had eight nipples and the opening of the pouch was faced backwards, not forwards as is the case with kangaroos.

Distribution

The Pig-footed Bandicoot was native to western New South Wales and Victoria, the southern part of the Northern Territory as well as South Australia and Western Australia. It inhabited a wide range of habitat types: from grassy woodland and grassland plains to the spinifex country and arid flats of central Australia. Despite its wide range, the species had a sparse distribution and was never abundant.

Habitat and ecology

  • The Pig-footed Bandicoot was a solitary, nocturnal animal that would sleep in its shelter during the day and emerge in the evening to feed, using its keen sense of smell to find food. Depending on the habitat, they used a variety of shelters to hide from predators and for sleeping. In wooded areas and grasslands these ranged from hollow logs and nests made out of grass, while in arid treeless country this animal used to dig short, straight burrows with a nest at the end.
  • From surviving eyewitness reports and analyses of gut contents, dentition, and gut structure of museum specimens, it appears that the Pig-footed Bandicoot was the most herbivorous of bandicoots; although captive specimens were fond of meat and Aborigines reported that it ate grasshoppers, ants and termites, the bulk of its diet was almost certainly leaves, roots and grasses. In captivity it was observed that they drank "a good deal of water".
  • Few scientists had the opportunity to observe a live Pig-footed Bandicoot, with the only existing account of its behaviour suggesting that it moved "like a broken-down hack in a canter, apparently dragging the hind quarters after it". Thus is contradicted by the Aboriginal people of central Australia, who knew it well and reported that if disturbed, it was capable of running with considerable speed by breaking into a smooth, galloping sprint.
  • Tim Flannery suggests that breeding occurred between May and June and that twins may have been the norm for this species. From the size of its pouch and comparison with other marsupials of this size, it can be inferred that Pig-footed Bandicoots did not carry more than four young per littler.


Threats

Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region