Is it a mouse or a rabbit or a mini-kangaroo? No — it’s a bilby.
I HAVE NEVER SEEN A BILBY, although I lived in Australia for 28 years. But I wish…
There used to be two species of bilby. The lesser bilby became extinct in the 1950s. The greater bilby is an endangered species.
The following is copied from an article in BBC News. See the link HERE:
A rare marsupial that once ran wild in Australia’s state of New South Wales has been reintroduced into the state for the first time in more than a century.
Bilbies – small nocturnal mammals with long, rabbit-like ears – were last recorded in the state in 1912.
But now 30 captive-bred animals were released into a large predator-free enclosure near the town of Narrabri, northwest of Sydney. [GN: I visited Narrabri several times in 1972 to watch the huge radio-telescope monitor the sun’s radio wave emission. In the evenings, dozens of kangaroos would come in to feed near the telescope.]
This is seen as a major victory in efforts to save bilbies from extinction.
However, without the protection of a 20 mile (32km) fence they probably would not survive.
Bilbies – who feed on plant roots, ants, beetles and spiders – disappeared in Australia’s most populous state before the start of World War One following the introduction of predators including cats and foxes.
Bilbies are currently listed as a vulnerable species.
From one other source, bilbies are believed to have inhabited Australia for up to 15 million years. They feature in the songs and stories of Aboriginal Australians, who refer to them by up to 20 different names. While bilbies co-existed with Aboriginal people for 60,000 years, in the 200 years since Europeans arrived they’ve been pushed close to extinction.
A few other Aussie animals on the endangered list are described HERE. And they are extra-cute also!
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Ian, I’ve never heard of a bilby. Very cute and I hope the release works and they thrive. Gary
To tell the truth Gary, I had completely forgotten about them although I’d heard of them decades ago.
Good blog post Ian. Reminds us of our responsibilities to the vast spectrum of nature.
Yes, Don. It seems so sad when loveable animal or bird species dies out. The Tasmanian tiger may not have been so loveable, but last one was seen in the 1930s I believe. It was a marsupial “wolf” with a baby carried in a pouch but with the baby looking backward as I recall. Quite a fierce creature!
I’m rooting for them! May they live longer and prosper. Thanks for letting us know about them.
I need to find a zoo that has them, in my next trip to Aus. I wonder if they are as cuddly as they look.