Feeding ecology and diet

Emerging from its burrow about an hour after sunset, the bilby is wholly nocturnal, returning well before dawn. It searches for food by using its powerful front feet with long claws to dig numerous small conical holes in the ground up to 4 in (10 cm) deep. The long thin tongue is used to lick up much of the food—between 29 and 90% of its feces consists of earth. The senses of smell and hearing are both crucial in food detection.

This marsupial is omnivorous, with a diet that includes seeds, roots, insects, bulbs, fruit, and fungi. Research shows that individual colonies tend to favor one or two food items over all others, probably in response to their abundance within

In parts of Australia, introduced rabbits have caused a decline in the numbers of greater bilbies (Macrotis lagotis) due to competition for burrows. (Photo by Chris Oaten/Nature Focus, Australian Museum. Reproduced by permission.)

a particular habitat. Thus in the Tanami Desert, bilbies consume termites and lepidoptera larvae; in Queensland, seeds, bulbs, and acacia root-feeding grubs predominate at different locations. Bilbies do not appear to drink water; instead, they gain the moisture they need from their food.

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