Numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus)

The numbat, also known as the banded anteater, marsupial anteater, or walpurti, is a marsupial found in Western Australia. Its diet consists almost exclusively of termites. Once widespread across southern Australia, its range is now restricted to several small colonies, and it is listed as an endangered species.The numbat is a small, colourful creature between 35 and 45 centimetres (14 and 18 in) long, including the tail. Unlike most other marsupials, the numbat is diurnal, largely because of the constraints of having a specialised diet without having the usual physical equipment for it. Like many ant-eating animals, the numbat has an unusually long, narrow tongue, coated with sticky saliva produced by large submandibular glands. Adult numbats are solitary and territorial; an individual male or female establishes a territory of up to 1.5 square km (370 acres) early in life, and defends it from others of the same sex.

photo credits: Martybugs, Danita Delimont, Frank O'Connor, ARKive

NUMBAT (Myrmecobius fasciatus) ©Sharon Wormleaton

The numbat, also called the Banded Anteater or marsupial anteater, This Australian marsupial mainly eats termites or ‘white ants’ with its very long sticky tongue. This gentle and squirrel-like solitary animal is active by day, each numbat having its own home range. At night they sleep in a hollow log or under fallen timber. Numbats are slow moving animals that “trot” about with its bushy tail held high. Numbats prefer areas of open woodland, dominated by Wandoo/Eucalyptus which termites feed on. They require shelter at night, nesting and protection from predators (eg Feral cats & dogs, Sparrow Hawks, Eagles and Carpet Pythons).

Numbats feed almost exclusively on termites only occasionally eating other ants.  Numbats use their long snouts to “snuffle” the ground in search of food, and then they use their front feet to dig for the termites in the soil and extract them with their long, sticky tongue. A numbat eats 10,000 + termites each day.

Sexual maturity is reached at about a year. Mating occurs from December to February (Australia’s summer) and 4 young are common. Numbats do not have a pouch, so the young, born blind and hairless, simply cling to the belly fur of their mother while feeding. They will suckle for 6 months. before they are left in a burrow when the mother goes out to feed. She returns to suckle them at night. When travelling with older babies, 6 to 10 months the numbat will carry them clinging to her back.

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For Anonymous by request: Oh, and what do I think of them? I think numbats are fascinating little guys—and awfully cute for termite munchers :)