Physical characteristics

Bandicoots are small marsupials with a long, pointed snout, and are stockily built, with short limbs and neck. The ears are generally short and rounded, although more elongate in the genus Perameles. The pig-footed bandicoots have long, erect ears. The tail is thin and short in most species, although it is

Adaptations for digging in bandicoots (Isoodon macrourus shown here). 1. Forepaw has long, strong claws, and digits I and V are reduced; 2. The bandicoot's pouch faces backwards. (Illustration by Gillian Harris)

long and crested in the pig-footed bandicoot. The teeth are small, relatively even in size, and sharply pointed. The dental formula is generally (I1-5/1-3 C1/1 P1-3/1-3, M1-4/1-4) but in Echymipera and Rhynchomeles there are only four pairs of upper incisors. The forefeet bear strong curved claws that are used in conjunction with the elongate muzzle to dig food items from the soil. Digits I and V are reduced in all species, and in Chaeropus only digits II and III are functional, giving rise to the common name. The hindfoot is elongate; digit I is reduced or absent, digits II and III are joined in syndactyly, digit IV is elongate, strong and powerful, while digit V is reduced or absent. Fur coloration is generally drab and unadorned, being darker on the dorsal surface and lighter ventrally. Exceptions exist, however. Perameles gunnii and P. bougainville have prominent pale posterior bars, Microper-oryctes longicauda, M. papuensis, and Echymipera echinista are variously striped on the head and dorsum. The pig-footed bandicoot has a crested tail tipped with black.

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