Numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus)
The Numbat is a small slender mammal, with a small pointed head and small upright ears, four short legs with long claws and a long bushy tail. They are grey-brown to reddish in colour with black and white banding on their back and rump, beige under belly and a long black stripe across the eye.
With their long slender tongue (10-11cm) they forage in narrow cavities in logs, leaf litter and small holes for termites. They do not have propper teeth like other mammals, only blunt pegs because they do not chew their food. Consumming up to 20,000 termites a day - they do not need to drink water because they get all the moisture they need from the termites.
Numbats do not have a pouch to carry their young, they have skinfolds that cover their babies that are suckling on the mother's four teats. Long guard hairs offer some warmth to the young in the pouch. They are solitary animals, which means they do not live with other members of their species. The only time you see Numbats together is when they come together to mate. The females are around 12 months of age to be able to breed and the males around 2 years. Mating season is December - January and the gestation period is only 14 days. The average amount of young born to one female is four and they are born very underdeveloped and must travel to the mother's nipples to attach if they are to survive. Baby numbats suckle until they are nine months old which is when they learn to forage and eat termites.
You will find Numbats living in Eucalypt Woodlands in the south west of Western Australia where old fallen trees provide hollow logs for shelter, nest sites and foraging opportunities. The trees provide protection from birds of prey and other predators like foxes, cats and native reptiles. Habitat destruction also threatens Numbats when woodland is cleared for farming, developing, mining and for peoples homes.
There are fewer than 1000 Numbats left in the wild. This is less than the number of Orangutans in Sumatra and even less than the number of Giant Pandas in Asia. If you are lucky enough to see a Numbat in your travels, please contact the Department of Environment and Conservation.