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The Numbat: Australia’s Cuddly Termite Eating Marsupial

Newborn being hand raised

Photo: Perth Zoo

This cute little creature is a marsupial just like kangaroos and wallabies, so carries its young in a pouch. Unfortunately it is also an endangered marsupial, partly due to foxes and other predators and partly due to its specialized diet. It eats termites exclusively.

Numbats

Photo: Helenabella

The numbat may eat termites alone but it doesn’t have the equipment most termite eaters do, such as claws that would allow it to break into the nests. For its diminutive size it does fairly well, but it has to follow the feeding and activity times of the termites, so is diurnal – meaning active during the day. Numbats can dig into the subsurface tunnel areas between the nest and feeding area of the termites, but an adult needs to eat 20,000 of the little insects a day!

Newborn being hand raised

Photo: Perth Zoo

In the 19th century, the red fox was introduced to Australia and almost wiped out the whole population of numbats. Only a couple of populations in Western Australia survived, it is believed because there were a large number of hollow logs that the numbats could hide in there. There are active conservation programs ongoing, notably one in Perth Zoo, which breeds numbats for release into the wild. Hopefully one day these adorable little creatures can be taken off the endangered list.

Numbats

Photo: Greg Schechter

Source:  Environmental Graffiti

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March 28, 2011 - Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Unusual Stories, We Are All God's Creatures, Wild Animals | , , , ,

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