Pigfooted bandicoot

Chaeropus ecaudatus

SUBFAMILY

Peramelinae

TAXONOMY

Perameles ecaudatus (Ogilby, 1838), Murray River, New South Wales, Australia.

OTHER COMMON NAMES German: Schweinfussnasenbeutler.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Head and body length was 9.1-10.2 in (230-260 mm); weight was about 7 oz (200 g); comparatively long tail, despite its vernacular, bearing a terminal crest. Forefeet digits reduced to give appearance of pig's feet or deer hooves.

DISTRIBUTION

Formerly found across much of arid Australia, including much of inland Western Australia and South Australia, the southern half of the Northern Territory and marginally in western Queensland, New South Wales, and northwestern Victoria.

HABITAT

In the central deserts, occurred on sand dunes and sand plains with hummock grassland and tussock grass, sometimes with a

I Chaeropus ecaudatus I Echymipera rufescens mulga (Acacia) overstory. In the east, occupied grassy plains and open woodland with a grass and shrub understory.

BEHAVIOR

Nocturnal and presumably solitary except during mating and females with young. Gait compared with "a broken-down hack in a canter," but capable of explosive speed and agile leaps when disturbed.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The species' tooth structure and gut anatomy suggest that it was more herbivorous than other bandicoots. This notion is supported by observations of feeding by captives, and stomach content analysis. Termites, ants, and other insects were also eaten.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeding is speculated to have been in May and June. The pouch has eight nipples, but litters seem to have been one to two. Probably promiscuous.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Extinct. Last specimen collected in 1901 but Aboriginal testimony indicates that it probably survived in parts of its range until the 1950s.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

None, although probably eaten by indigenous Australians. ♦

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