fasciatus [mur mih kO' bE uhs fah she' ah
marsupial is up to 18 inches long, including a
bushy tail up to 7 inches long; females are
markedly smaller than males. Its stout body is
flattened across the hindquarters. The long,
pointed muzzle holds 52 teeth, more than any
other mammal except some whales. Its short, stiff
hair is reddish-yellow to chestnut-red in color,
with white bands around the body and a
white-bordered black line on each side of the
face running from the ear through the eyeline to
the tip of the nose.
The numbat is only found in
southwestern Australia, where it lives in open
woodland dominated by eucalyptus stands.
Habits and Behaviors
The numbat is the only
Australian mammal that is solely active during
the day. It spends its nights in a hollowed out
eucalyptus log. To "tuck" itself in,
the numbat points its head pointed toward the
closed end, tucks its tail under its body, and
closes the entrance with its rump, which is
composed of solid muscle. If disturbed, the
numbat will swell its body so it fits into the
hollow like a cork, making it virtually
impossible for a predator, even a snake, to get
in or pull it out. Once asleep, a numbat will not
budge for anything, even if its home is on fire.
If danger presents itself in the open, the numbat
runs for the nearest hollow log, where it will
wedge itself until it feels safe.
The numbat usually spends its
day looking for food, but is prone to sudden
bursts of activity, running quickly in a series
of bounds, and it readily climbs trees. It will
also occasionally stand straight up on its
hindlegs and look around, either out of curiosity
or to look for potential danger.
Its tail is normally carried
straight out behind or with a slight upward
curve, but when excited the tail is curved
upwards or over the back, much like squirrels do.
Numbats are solitary except for
mating and mothers with young.
Numbats feed almost exclusively
on termites, plucking them out of cavities in
rotten wood with their long tongue or using their
sharp claws to rip open shallow underground
termite nests. A grown numbat can consume 10-20
thousand termites a day, as well as any ants that
happen to be living in the termite colonies.
The courtship and mating
behaviors of numbats have not been recorded.
Four young are born between
January and May. Although it is a marsupial, the
numbat does not have a pouch. Instead, the female
has four teats surrounded by long crimped hairs.
At first the babies simply cling to the teats
with their mouths, but later they cling to the
hairs with their forefeet. When they have grown
to a certain size (at about 4-6 months) the
mother digs a hole in the ground, in which she
leaves them while she goes foraging. The young
will be completely on their own by the end of
their first year.
Once ranging from western New
South Wales across south and central Australia
into Western Australia, the numbat's population
has declined due to introduced predators and
habitat destruction. It is protected as the
national emblem of Western Australia, and is
listed as a vulnerable species.
genus & species Myrmecobius fasciatus
Australian Animals http://www.australian-animals.net/numbat.htm
Australian Fauna http://www.australianfauna.com/numbat.php
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