Bilbies are the largest bandicoots and are found in Australia. These small-sized marsupials are predated extensively by wild cats. Of the bilbies, one species known as the lesser bilby has become extinct, while the greater bilby is an endangered species.
Bilbies in Desert
Bilbies were once widely found throughout Australia. Today, however, bilby population is limited to semi-desert and arid areas of northern western australia. Bilbies are nocturnal creatures and have to compete for food with other animals of the area. Their notable characteristics include large rabbit-like ears, a pointed snout and a very long tail (can even be a foot long). Bilbies are small in size and measure only about 30 – 55 centimeters (11 – 22 inches) in length.
Environmental factors ideal for the survival of bilby are hot and dry climates with temperature ranging between 30 and 40 degree celsius. This makes the climate of australian deserts ideal for bilby.
Bilby adaptations that help it survive
Some striking bilby adaptations that help bilby survive in the desert are –
1. Bilby has long, strong and skinny feet with long claws that help it dig through the sand and make spiral burrows. They can dig upto 6 feet deep burrows. Its deep burrows are hard to find for predators. Due to their long legs, they can also run at fast speeds and outrun their predators.
Their sharp claws are also excellent at extracting plant roots for eating.
2. Bilbies rarely drink water and use the water they get from the food they eat. This helps them survive with ease in the dry desert areas. Their food includes insects, spiders, worms and other small animals.
3. The fur of bilby helps it camouflage while they hunt. It also helps them stay warm as the temperatures drop during night in the desert.
4. They have an exceptional sense of smell to sniff prey, and fruits. Their sense of hearing is great too, but their eyesight is poor.
5. Being marsupials, the females have a pouch in which they bear the child. Interestingly, the bilby pouch is backward. This prevents any sand from entering the pouch while bilby digs the sand.
6. Bilbies have a long tongue that helps them catch far-flung prey.