Feeding ecology and diet

Bandicoots are nocturnal, terrestrial foragers, reliant on their strong senses of smell and hearing to detect food. Species studied gain most of their food by using their powerful fore-limbs to dig numerous small, conical holes vertically into the

A juvenile Raffray's bandicoot (Peroryctes raffrayana). (Photo by Pavel German. Reproduced by permission.)

earth or forest floor. Some food is also taken directly from the ground.

All research points to bandicoots being omnivorous. The diet includes a wide range of surface and soil invertebrates, such as ants and termites, beetles and their larvae, earthworms, moths, and spiders. Birds' eggs, small mammals, and lizards are also eaten.

Fungi and fruit are of seasonal importance to forest-dwelling bandicoots. In the few studies of New Guinea species, the large-toothed bandicoot (Echymipera clara) feeds on Ficus and pandanus fruits, while the spiny bandicoot (Echymipera kalubu) has been observed eating a variety of fallen fruit.

Bandicoot dentition, together with a lack of adaptations in the alimentary canal indicate that plant material is eaten selectively, with little fibrous vegetation taken. Seeds and tubers are most often eaten. Omnivorous feeding means that the teeth, sharp and better equipped for a purely insectivorous diet, become flattened with wear.

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