Residents in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs are sometimes lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Southern Brown Bandicoot snuffling around their garden searching for insects and fungi. However, these little critters are getting harder to find and are now listed as nationally endangered. As Melbourne continues to grow, we need to ensure that our Southern Brown Bandicoot populations are protected and sustainable.
- Short, rounded ears, pointy snout, strong feet and a stocky body.
- Around 40cm to 50cm long from nose to tail, weighing up to 1.2kg.
- Like to eat insects, spiders, ferns and fungi.
- Live in areas with low, dense plants.
- Ecological engineers, turning over 3.9 tonnes of soil in a year, helping spread beneficial fungi, increasing nutrient turnover, and improving water penetration into the soil.
Bandicoots in trouble
The bandicoot is under threat for a range of reasons, including:
- removal of habitat
- introduced predators like foxes and cats
- busy roads isolating populations.
How are we helping?
1. Community engagement - encouraging locals to get on the bandi-wagon
We’re proud to partner with the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne (RBGC) to support and encourage local councils, developers and communities to create bandicoot-friendly suburbs in the south-east. Helping wildlife live side-by-side with us helps residents connect with and value their environment. In turn, this also helps keep plants healthy and ecosystems functioning.
Since 2019, the Southern Brown Bandicoot Outreach Program has been working with the Casey-Cardinia community to help residents get to know their nosey neighbours. This includes:
- 5000 people reached with bandicoot displays at public events
- two school bandicoot habitat gardens constructed
- 40 school and kindergarten lessons delivered
- two Big Bandicoot Backyard festivals at Cranbourne Gardens
- a Bandicoot Brigade established to help residents access advice and resources
- 500 seed kits distributed to residents of bandicoot areas.
RBGC also teamed up with local children’s author Jo Watson to create 'Bindi and Buddy', a story about a boy and a bandicoot, which aims to spark curiosity and connection with this special animal. The Victorian Government is proud to support the distribution of this book to 250 kindergartens and primary schools.
2. Creating bandi-friendly suburbs
Located in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, the RBGC is home to a thriving population of Southern Brown Bandicoots. We’re supporting developers, local government and community groups to design the bandi-friendly Botanic Ridge and Devon Meadows precincts, located nearby. These precincts have shelter, foraging areas and allow these little critters to move safely to and from the gardens.
To create these safe havens:
- residents are prohibited from owning cats
- developers and landowners are encouraged to plant native vegetation for bandicoot habitat
- DELWP has developed culvert design standards and is funding the construction of these under roads to help these little guys move safely around the suburbs
- drainage and open space reserves are being revegetated and landscaped to provide habitat connectivity corridors.
3. Boosting scientific understanding of the Southern Brown Bandicoot
The Arthur Rylah Institute has developed a Population Viability Analysis (PVA) model for the Southern Brown Bandicoot. This uses current information and science to predict the Southern Brown Bandicoot’s risk of extinction. This model will help us prioritise management options and research by:
- identifying knowledge gaps for future research
- informing on-ground management decisions by evaluating the relative effectiveness of alternative management options.
The model can be updated as new knowledge comes to hand and new management options are developed, to improve subsequent management decisions over time.
4. Supporting healthy populations
A state-wide genetic rescue strategy to improve the genetic fitness of Southern Brown Bandicoot populations is being developed. This strategy will help address the problems associated with the fragmented distribution of Victoria’s populations.
Southern Brown Bandicoot populations are thought to be declining and are undergoing different levels of inbreeding.
One solution is to mix carefully selected animals from the wild in open-range, predator-free sites. This program will establish two sites:
- Cranbourne Botanic Gardens
- Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Centre (to be confirmed).
These two populations will also improve the likelihood of successful gene pool mixing in wild populations. We will use genetic analysis to work out which wild populations will be best for this.
DELWP is leading the development of this strategy in partnership with public authorities, research institutions, and conservation organisations. The Melbourne Strategic Assessment (MSA) program is contributing funding to the establishment of populations of Southern Brown Bandicoots.
Implementation Plan for the Southern Brown Bandicoot Sub-Regional Species Strategy
Sub-regional Species Strategy for the Southern Brown Bandicoot
Sub-Regional Species Strategy for the Southern Brown Bandicoot – Supplement: habitat connectivity
Page last updated: 14/09/21