Wow! We set a record number of captures back on day 6 and last night…we smashed it!
We caught 31 bandicoots in one night and 6 were new animals! That brings our grand total for August to 56 adults including 31 new animals born in the wild, plus 56 pouch young! As we have caught new bandicoots every night, we are confident there are even more animals out there that we have not caught yet. The mainland Eastern Barred Bandicoot (EBB) is classified as extinct in the wild so we are thrilled to see the population is growing so well. The EBB’s at Woodlands also seem very healthy with lots of breeding in the population and animals at record weights. We caught some males over 1 kg in weight – and that is very big for a bandicoot!
The Melbourne Zoo Vet Team has also been out the past 2 days conducting health checks on the bandicoots. As they are with us for their checks during the day, we let them sleep in a safe box and then release them at dusk, when they would naturally wake in the wild.
It has been a big few weeks for us and our EBB’s and we are so pleased with all of the results. We will be out again monitoring the population in spring. Until then, catch you later beautiful bandicoots! We will see you again soon!
Day 8 of our Eastern Barred Bandicoot (EBB) trapping was another big success – 22 EBB’s and 2 of them were new! It was a little more overcast today, but luckily the rain held off until we were all finished. It still looked nice and bright in the park with wattle flowering everywhere!
When we catch new bandicoots we give them a microchip with an individual number and take a genetic sample (in the field we take a small amount of fur and we can extract DNA from the hair follicle). We work with partners at the University of Melbourne and CESAR to track the genetic health of the population and ensure everything is set up well for the future. The other locals seem to find all our work quite fascinating – we were closely watched by a mob of Kangaroos!
During our trapping we have also caught some of the usual suspects – Brushtail Possums! All of the possums looked very healthy and the females appear to be breeding very well too. There were many bulging pouches and we think Woodlands may have a bandicoot and possum baby boom!
A brushtailed possum heads back to the wild
We also caught a Ringtail Possum and a young rabbit. The rabbit was an interesting case – the trap was still wide open so he could have left at any time. Must have decided the warm fluff in the trap was too comfortable to leave. No wonder we are catching so many animals!
A little rabbit who didn’t want to leave. Notice he wasn’t even interested in the food bait…?
Day 7 of our Eastern Barred Bandicoot (EBB) monitoring and it is another success story. We caught 18 bandicoots last night and 2 of them were new animals born in the wild!
An EBB bounds back to his wild home
All of the females had young in their pouches and one girl had 3 very large young that hardly fitted in her pouch anymore! These young are about 55 days old and at the stage where they enter and leave the pouch throughout the night, before finally growing too big to fit. When we first found this female and her big youngsters, all of the young were out exploring their warm fluffy bed inside the trap.
The big babies exploring a bag. You can see the great stripes on their tails and ears. Photo: Jasmine De Milliano
We checked they were all healthy and placed them in a nice secure bag with their mother. When we checked again, all the young had gone back into the pouch to sleep… Well, they tried to fit at least. In the photo below, one sleepy baby could not fit so was snoozing with his head and feet hanging out of her pouch. We released mum and babies back to the wild together.
The big baby having a snooze with his head and feet sticking out from the pouch!
Photo: Amy Coetsee
After a successful first round of Eastern Barred Bandicoot (EBB) monitoring in early August, our team from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria and Zoos Victoria were back out for round 2 at our newest EBB release site- Woodlands Historic Park. This is a critical site for us to fight extinction for this amazing species.
We had a big day setting up the traps with warm fluff, the bandicoot’s favourite bait food (peanut butter, rolled oats and honey) and new canvas covers to make sure our animals felt warm and secure.
An EBB in the grass at Woodlands –what great camouflage!
We came back at dawn to see who we had found and…. it was a record! We caught 23 EBB’s, and 7 were new animals we had not seen before! Like last time, almost all of our females had young in their pouches (or they had elongated teats which suggests that young had just left the pouch). We were especially excited to see a female with four young in her pouch. Bandicoots generally have 2-3 young per litter and four young is very rare!
A pouch with 4 new babies – bandi-cute!
Unfortunately, we did find one male with an injured tail, so he came back for treatment with our Veterinary Team at Melbourne Zoo. I don’t know anyone who knows more about bandicoot health and treatments than our Vets so we are confident he is getting the best care for his sore tail and he will hopefully be released back to Woodlands soon. Everyone else were released after their check up back to their grassland homes.
This is me releasing one of our bandicoots – what a great feeling!
Here at Healesville Sanctuary, not much gets wasted. A single fish can provide both food and enrichment for several species over the course of a week (although not many people would want to get too close to it by the end).
Day 1 – Keeper Jess has a fresh fish carcass and knows who would love it- Wylie the Water rat goes straight for the eye balls. Yum! That’s enough food for him for 2 days! Now we just needed to let our fish get a bit more smelly before going to the next eager recipient.
Day 3 – Tasmanian Devil keeper, Monica, with the fish that has gone rotten. She left it outside for a few hours and it is now covered in maggots.
Day 3 – Tasmanian Devil, Lucifer, scent marking his maggoty new fish. He is so excited
Lucifer taking his fish away to hide from everyone else. He got very protective of it when any keeper got too close.
After 5 days there was nothing left to find of the maggoty fish carcass… Well if you got too close to Lucifer you’d still get a sensory reminder… Smells like enrichment!
Oh by the way- you may not want to try this with your fishy leftovers at home :)
Our final day for our winter monitoring of Eastern Barred Bandicoots (EBBs) at Woodlands Historic Park and we are still finding great numbers of healthy bandicoots (and Possums).
Today our teams caught 10 EBBs and 6 of them were new animals born in the reserve! That gives us a total of 36 for this round of monitoring (including 14 new animals born in the wild!). Each of the females we caught also had young, with a total of 27 new babies counted in their mothers’ pouches! We also found lots of bandicoot diggings across the park, which is also good to see. It shows they are moving throughout their new home and foraging for their favourite foods including worms, other invertebrates, roots and tubers.
Perfect bandicoot habitat – a mix of grasslands and woodlands
Our partners in Conservation Volunteers Australia and Parks Victoria, and all our Zoo staff, are very pleased with how the new population is growing and how healthy all the Bandicoots look. We look forward to seeing them all again soon!
Bye bandicoots! See you next time!