What has the ears of a rabbit, the nose of an anteater and the tail of a kangaroo? An Australian bilby, that’s what and there are so many Bilby Facts for kids that you will find surprising!
Here in the land down under we love our unique animals and our bilby is definitely one of them. Only found in Australia, these small rabbit-like marsupials have some very interesting features and behaviours, some of which are super helpful to our ecosystem and other animals too. If like us, you find these little guys super intriguing then you will love all of the fun bilby facts for kids that we have rounded up below. How many did you already know?
Fun Bilby Facts for Kids
- Bilbies are sometimes referred to as rabbit-eared bandicoots
- Bilbies live in deserts, dry forests, dry grasslands, and dry shrubby areas in Australia.
- Bilbies have pointed heads that taper into a long narrow snout.
- Bilbies have small black eyes.
- Bilbies don’t have very good eyesight, and rely on their hearing and sense of smell to find food and to sense danger.
- Bilbies have large ears, allowing them to have better hearing.
- Bilbies are omnivores with a diet that includes insects such as termites, spiders and other small animals such as lizards and worms, small mammals, fruit, bulbs, and seeds.
- Bilbies typically make several burrows within its home range, up to about a dozen, and moves between them, using them for shelter both from predators and the heat of the day.
- Bilbies don’t need to drink, as they get all of the water they need from their food.
- Bilbies weigh up to 2.5 kg, females weighing proportionally less.
- Bilbies are nocturnal, only emerging from their burrows at night.
- A Bilby’s forelimbs are strong as they are designed for digging.
- Three of the five digits on each forepaw of a Bilby are clawed.
- Bilbies move around with a hare-like movement.
- Female bilbies have pouches, which open from the bottom, in which they carry their young.
- Bilbies are currently rated ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List
- Chocolate ‘Easter Bilbies’ are eaten at Easter as a way of raising awareness of the bilby’s vulnerable status.
- Each year, National Bilby Day is held on the second Sunday in September.
Bilby habitat and food
The Australian bilby prefers to live in the driest areas of Australia. This includes deserts, dry forests, grasslands, and dry shrubby areas in Australia. They are highly adaptive animals, which is why they can live in different habitat areas around Australia.
Bilbies are nocturnal and only come out at nighttime to look for their food. They don’t ha,, so good eyesight and so they rely on their large ears and snout to hear and smell their prey and predators. Using their long snouts, they dig out bulbs, tubers, spiders, termites, witchetty grubs and fungi. They use their tongues to lick up grass seeds.
Bilbies don’t drink any water as they get all the water they need from the foods that they eat – making the dry desert-like habitats they prefer ideal!
Life Cycle of a Bilby
Female bilbies usually give birth to 2-3 joeys at a time, and can have up to four litters each year. Usually, after only about 12 days of being pregnant, the joeys are born – now that is a quick pregnancy! In fact, it is one of the shortest pregnancy periods out of all mammals.
Once the joeys are born they crawl into their mother’s pouch, where they will spend about 3 months developing further and feeding off her milk. After a few more weeks outside of the pouch but in the burrow they will become independent. A bilby will then go out to dig their own burrows, mate and have their own babies and usually live for about 7 – 10 years.
Bilbies live in burrows that they dig themselves with their very strong forelimbs. They create them to provide both shelter from the heat and also from predators. Each bilby can actually have up to 12 burrows, with each one being up to 3m long and 2m deep!
A bilby is incredibly skillful at burrowing. So much so that if a predator tries to get into their burrow to get them they will just dig to make their hole even deeper to escape them. They will also continue to repair and re-use their burrows for many years.
How a bilby burrow helps other animals and our ecosystem
Did you know that bilbies are incredible helpful to our ecosystem and other animals. Their impressive burrows provide shelter for many other animals, even when they are still in use! In fact, up to 20 different species have been recorded using the burrows and this number could even be a lot higher too.
Another way that bilbies help our ecosystem is by moving a huge amount of soil. This activity causes nutrients to accumulate in the soil, which enables a greater diversity of plants to grow compared to areas without bilbies. How cool is that?
Bilby Conservation Status
Once widespread throughout Australia, bilby numbers fell significantly in the early 20th Century. 10% of that decline has occurred in just the past 12 years. The current population is estimated to be fewer than 10,000. The two main threats are competition for food from livestock and introduced species such as rabbits, and predation by foxes and feral cats.
Unfortunately, the bilby is currently listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.
How can you help the bilby population?
Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation
The Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation (DWF) was established to collaborate with wildlife groups to bring financial support to conservation on a global scale. You can help make a difference by adopting a bilby or making a donation today!
Save the Bilby Fund
The Save the Bilby Fund breed and release captive bilbies to a sanctuary surrounded by a predator exclusion fence in Currawinya National Park to build a population of 400 free-living bilbies. Save the Bilby Fund is a national charity launched on 28 March 1999 by the late Frank Manthey OAM and the late scientist Peter McRae to raise the money to build the fence in an effort to stop the steady decline of bilby numbers. For more information on how you can help , visit Save the Bilby Fund.
Where can you find Bilbies in Brisbane?
If you loved learning all about the bilby, you may also be interested in the following animal facts for kids: