Bilby

Bilby Joeys Born at Alice Springs Desert Park

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Alice Springs Desert Park, in central Australia, has produced two new resident marsupials.

The Greater Bilby is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, so the birth of the two healthy little male Bilbies puts the Desert Park on the conservation front and helps ensure that the unique marsupial will survive for generations to come.

Specialist Zoo Keeper, Bronte Stray, said these two Bilbies are part of the National Recovery Plan and are genetically important to the program.

Ms. Stray began, “The boys will help in diversifying the gene pool, unlike many marsupials, the male Bilby actually helps protect and raise the young.

“Bilbies are slowly becoming endangered because of environmental factors which encompass habitat loss and change, and competition with other animals and feral predators.

“The Bilby is perfectly designed for foraging for food with its huge ears and very good nose, the Bilby doesn’t need good eye sight, as it listens and smells for invertebrates, fruits, seeds and even witchetty grubs, which are inside tree roots. It also doesn’t need to drink as it can get all its water from its food, especially tubers and roots which can have very high water content,” continued Ms. Stray.

The National Recovery Program includes captive breeding, monitoring populations, and re-establishing Bilbies where they once lived.

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4_P1010031Photo Credits: Alice Springs Desert Park

The Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis), often referred to simply as the Bilby since the Lesser Bilby (Macrotis leucura) became extinct in the 1950s, is an Australian species of nocturnal omnivorous animal in the order Peramelemorphia. (Other vernacular names include dalgyte, pinkie, or rabbit-eared bandicoot).

The species lives in arid areas of central Australia, but their native range and population is in decline.

They do not need to drink water and get all the moisture they need from their food, which includes: insects and their larvae, seeds, spiders, bulbs, fruit, fungi, and very small animals. Most of their food is found by digging or scratching in the soil, and using their very long tongues.

Greater Bilbies have a short gestation period of about 12–14 days, one of the shortest among mammals. Their young are only 0.25 in (0.6 cm) long and very underdeveloped when they are born. They crawl to the mother’s pouch and latch onto one of her eight teats, and they leave the pouch after 70–75 days. But they will remain in the burrow for two to three weeks before independence. Litters usually consist of one to three joeys, and females can have up to four litters per year, depending on conditions.

The baby Bilbies can now be viewed at the Desert Park Nocturnal House.

For further details and park information visit www.alicespringsdesertpark.com.au.


Help Name Taronga Zoo’s Bilby Joey

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Taronga Zoo is asking the public for help in naming one of its first-ever Bilby joeys!

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Bilby Joey Health Check 4Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo (Images 1,2,3,4); Robert Dockerill (Images 5,6,7,8); Auspic (Image 9)

The Zoo announced the birth of the two joeys in December, capping off an exciting year that saw The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially open its new Bilby exhibit named in honor of their son, Prince George.

The Bilby youngsters had their first hands-on health check last week, with keepers confirming the pair are both female.

Taronga launched a public naming competition, a few days ago, for one of the two joeys on its Facebook and Instagram pages, calling for suggestions that reflect the joey’s native habitat. Keepers have already named one of the girls ‘Tanami’ after the Tanami Desert, which is home to fragmented populations of the Greater Bilby.

“We’ll be looking for a very Australian name, but not ‘Bruce’ or ‘Sheila’,” Bilby Keeper, Paul Davies said jokingly.

“It would be wonderful to find a name that reflects this beautiful Bilby’s natural habitat, which has sadly declined due to the introduction of farm animals and predators such as feral foxes and cats.”

Mr. Davies said the births have also helped build on the incredible exposure generated by the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Taronga in April 2014.

“You could even say the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge brought us good luck, as it’s after their visit that we've been able to breed Bilbies for the very first time,” he said.

The Bilby (also known as the rabbit-eared bandicoot) is a rabbit-like marsupial. It lives in deserts, dry forests, dry grasslands, and dry shrubby areas in Australia. The Bilby's pouch faces backwards. These big-eared, burrowing mammals are in danger of extinction.

More great pics, below the fold!

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