Northern Brown Bandicoot

Northern Brown Bandicoot
(Isoodon macrourus)


The Bandicoot is a regular visitor to most gardens, and often seen scurrying across the road at night. It is a solitary, territorial animal and can be aggressive, although I must admit I have only encountered placid bandicoots. Any aggression is generally directed at rivals as they cross each other’s territory.

In our part of Australia they breed all year round, the female becoming sexually mature at 4-5 months and from then on can produce a litter every 8 weeks. Normally only 2-3 litters are reared annually.


The nest is above the ground in a shallow hole lined with grass and leaves, which is scraped together with its forelegs. The upper surface of the nest is partly covered by soil and well concealed with debris. When the nest is occupied the entrance is well hidden. They may also use hollow logs on the ground. It is interesting just how many of our native animals make use of hollow logs for shelter and nesting, considering how long it can take for a tree to develop hollows, let us make sure we leave the old trees alone so the species that need these hollows can continue to exist.

Gestation is 12 1/2 days, the shortest gestation period of any marsupial. 2-7 young are born weighing 25 gram and 13 mm long, the tiny bandicoots make their way to the pouch whilst still attached to the umbilical cord until such time as they are securely attached to one of 8 teats. Normally only 3-4 young are raised, this is due to the fact that mum may breed again as soon as the young vacate the pouch, the teats that the young used are now too large for the newly born young to attach to, thus 2 successive litters will use alternate teats.

The young stay in the pouch for 60days, and become independent at about 4 months of age. The pouch is backward opening; just as well as the little ones would otherwise be covered in dirt when mum digs for food at night, it also makes the journey short when they have to make that first trip to the pouch after birth.

There are 2 species of Bandicoots in the Northern Rivers area, the Northern Brown, and the Long Nosed Bandicoot.

The Long Nosed is smaller than the Northern Brown, and like its name suggests it has a very long nose. The hind limbs of both species resemble that of the macropods, the thigh is powerful, foot elongate and the second and third toe is joined. The hind limbs can be used for leaping, but the usual fast movement is like a gallop.

Bandicoots dig cone shaped holes in the ground looking for worms, insects and roots. I have heard many complain about the holes dug in the garden by these interesting creatures, but if you consider that they are at the same time getting rid of many pests, maybe we should be thankful for their assistance.

They have a home range of 1-6 hectares, however, they tend to roam over a comparatively small range, often staying within half a hectare of their nests and can live for up to 3 years. Although some people associate bandicoots with ticks, this may be because humans tend to pick up ticks most easily in long grass or thick scrub – which also happens to be the type of habitat favoured by bandicoots.
Their main predators are dogs, cats, foxes python snakes, and the ferocious car of course.

We often see a dead Bandicoot on the road, please stop if it is safe to do so and check, if it is a female there may be young in the pouch, if this is the case, wrap the female in something like a towel or whatever you may have in the car, or put her in a box, and call WIRES or your nearest wildlife care organisation as soon as possible




© Wildlife Mountain 2000-2012


All native birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles are proteced under the Wildlife Act 1975, they may not be captured or harmed in any way without an authority issued under the Wildlife Act.