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Temporal range: Late Oligocene - Recent Late Oligocene–Recent
Eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunni)
Eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunni)
Scientific classificationEdit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Clade: Agreodontia
Order: Peramelemorphia
Superfamilies, etc.

See text.

Bandicoots are a group of more than 20 species of small to medium-sized, terrestrial, largely nocturnal marsupial omnivores in the order Peramelemorphia.[1] They are endemic to the AustraliaNew Guinea region, including the Bismarck Archipelago to the east and Seram and Halmahera to the west.


The bandicoot is a member of the order Peramelemorphia, and the word "bandicoot" is often used informally to refer to any peramelemorph, such as the bilby.[2] The term originally referred to the unrelated Indian bandicoot rat from the Telugu word pandikokku (పందికొక్కు) wherein pandi means pig and kokku means rat.[3]


Bandicoots have V-shaped faces, ending with their prominent noses similar to proboscis. These noses make them, along with bilbies, similar in appearance to elephant shrews and extinct leptictids, and they are distantly related to both mammal groups. With their well-attuned snouts and sharp claws, bandicoot are fossorial diggers. They have small but fine teeth that allow them to easily chew their food.[4]

Like most marsupials, male bandicoots have bifurcated penises.[5]

The embryos of bandicoots have a chorioallantoic placenta that connects them to the uterine wall, in addition to the choriovitelline placenta that is common to all marsupials.[6] However, the chorioallantoic placenta is small compared to those of the Placentalia, and lacks chorionic villi.

Bandicoots can reach 11 to 31 in (28 to 79 cm) in length, and 0.4 to 3.5 lb (0.18 to 1.6 kg) in weight. A bandicoot has a long, pointed snout, large ears, a short body, and a long tail. Its body is covered with fur that can be brown, black, golden, white, or grey in colour. Bandicoots have strong hind legs well adapted for jumping.

Bandicoots also have low body temperatures and low basal metabolic rates which aides their survival in hot and dry climates. They also have low total water evaporative rate and effective panting mechanisms which further aide their survival in hotter temperatures. [7]


Classification within the Peramelemorphia was previously thought to be straightforward, with two families in the order—the short-legged and mostly herbivorous bandicoots, and the longer-legged, nearly carnivorous bilbies. In recent years, however, the situation clearly has become more complex. First, the bandicoots of the New Guinean and far-northern Australian rainforests were deemed distinct from all other bandicoots and were grouped together in the separate family Peroryctidae. More recently, the bandicoot families were reunited in the Peramelidae, with the New Guinean species split into four genera in two subfamilies, Peroryctinae and Echymiperinae, while the "true bandicoots" occupy the subfamily Peramelinae. The only exception is the now-extinct pig-footed bandicoot, which has been given its own family, Chaeropodidae.

Vernacular names[edit]

Bandicoots in bronze at the Waratah Mills light rail stop on Sydney's Inner West Light Rail line; public art by Ochre Lawson[16]

The name bandicoot is an Anglicised version of a word from the Telugu language of South India which translates as 'pig-rat'.[17] What are now called bandicoots are not found in India and bandicoot was originally applied to completely unrelated mammals—several species of large rats (rodents). Today, these species, belonging to the genera Bandicota and Nesokia, are referred to as bandicoot rats.

Blust[18][19][20][21] reconstructs the form *mansar or *mansər 'bandicoot' for Proto-Central–Eastern Malayo-Polynesian (i.e., the reconstructed most recent common ancestor of the Central–Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages) from related words like Oceanic Motu mada and Fijian gwaca,[22] but the validity of this reconstruction is doubted by Schapper (2011).[23] It is known as aine in the Abinomn language of Papua, Indonesia.[24]

Bandicoots have different names by the indigenous peoples of the Australia-New Guinea region. For example, the Kaurna people refer to the southern brown bandicoot as the bung or the marti.[25][26]


  1. ^ Bandicoot. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 7 October 2020. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Definition of bandicoot from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary". Retrieved 7 September 2011.
  3. ^ Satpathy, Sumanyu (30 September 2017). "A tea party with Topiwalla and Alice". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Bandicoots". Department of Environment and Science, Queensland. 17 September 2009. Archived from the original on 8 March 2020. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  5. ^ "Natural History Collections: Anatomical Differences". Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  6. ^ Feldhamer, George A. (2007). Mammalogy: adaptation, diversity, ecology. JHU Press. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-8018-8695-9.
  7. ^ "Metabolic and ventilatory physiology of the Barrow Island golden bandicoot (Isoodon auratus barrowensis) and the northern brown bandicoot (Isoodon macrourus)". Journal of Thermal Biology. 33 (6): 337–344. August 2008.
  8. ^ Strahan, R. (1995). Mammals of Australia. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  9. ^ Travouillon, K. J.; Gurovich, Y.; Beck, R. M. D.; Muirhead, J. (2010). "An exceptionally well-preserved short-snouted bandicoot (Marsupialia; Peramelemorphia) from Riversleigh's Oligo-Miocene deposits, northwestern Queensland, Australia". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 30 (5): 1528. Bibcode:2010JVPal..30.1528T. doi:10.1080/02724634.2010.501463. S2CID 86726840.
  10. ^ Travouillon, K. J.; Gurovich, Y.; Archer, M.; Hand, S. J.; Muirhead, J. (2013). "The genus Galadi: Three new bandicoots (Marsupialia, Peramelemorphia) from Riversleigh's Miocene deposits, northwestern Queensland, Australia". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 33 (1): 153–168. Bibcode:2013JVPal..33..153T. doi:10.1080/02724634.2012.713416. hdl:11336/5382. S2CID 53525712.
  11. ^ Gurovich, Yamila; Travouillon, Kenny J.; Beck, Robin M. D.; Muirhead, Jeanette; Archer, Michael (2013). "Biogeographical implications of a new mouse-sized fossil bandicoot (Marsupialia: Peramelemorphia) occupying a dasyurid-like ecological niche across Australia". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 12 (3): 265. doi:10.1080/14772019.2013.776646. hdl:11336/5406. S2CID 140187280.
  12. ^ Travouillon, K.J., Beck, R.M.D., Hand, S.J., Archer, M. (2013). "The oldest fossil record of bandicoots (Marsupialia; Peramelemorphia) from the late Oligocene of Australia". Palaeontologia Electronica. 16 (2): 13A.1–13A.52.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Travouillon, Kenny J.; Archer, Michael; Hand, Suzanne J.; Muirhead, Jeanette (2014). "Sexually Dimorphic Bandicoots (Marsupialia: Peramelemorphia) from the Oligo-Miocene of Australia, First Cranial Ontogeny for Fossil Bandicoots and New Species Descriptions". Journal of Mammalian Evolution. 22 (2): 141. doi:10.1007/s10914-014-9271-8. S2CID 14643777.
  14. ^ Stirton, R.A. (1955). "Late tertiary marsupials from South Australia". Records of the South Australian Museum 11, 247–268.
  15. ^ Travouillon, K. J.; Hand, S. J.; Archer, M.; Black, K. H. (2014). "Earliest modern bandicoot and bilby (Marsupialia, Peramelidae and Thylacomyidae) from the Miocene of the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, northwestern Queensland, Australia". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 34 (2): 375. Bibcode:2014JVPal..34..375T. doi:10.1080/02724634.2013.799071. S2CID 85622058.
  16. ^ Lawson, Ochre. "Warratah [sic] Mills Light Rail Station - Davis St entrance". Retrieved 28 May 2023.
  17. ^ "Bandicoots". BushHeritageMVC. Retrieved 14 March 2024.
  18. ^ Blust, Robert. 1982. The linguistic value of the Wallace Line. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 138:231–50.
  19. ^ Blust, Robert. 1993. Central and Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian. Oceanic Linguistics 32:241–93.
  20. ^ Blust, Robert. 2002. The history of faunal terms in Austronesian languages. Oceanic Linguistics 41:89–139.
  21. ^ Blust, Robert. 2009. The position of the languages of eastern Indonesia: A Reply to Donohue and Grimes. Oceanic Linguistics 48:36–77.
  22. ^ Blust, Robert; Trussel, Stephen (2010). "*mansar: bandicoot, marsupial rat". Austronesian Comparative Dictionary. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  23. ^ Schapper, Antoinette (2011). "Phalanger Facts: Notes on Blust's Marsupial Reconstructions". Oceanic Linguistics. 50 (1): 258–272. doi:10.1353/ol.2011.0004. S2CID 145482148.
  24. ^ Foley, William A. (2018). "The languages of Northwest New Guinea". In Palmer, Bill (ed.). The Languages and Linguistics of the New Guinea Area: A Comprehensive Guide. The World of Linguistics. Vol. 4. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 433–568. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  25. ^ "Five facts about bandicoots". 28 July 2016. Archived from the original on 20 August 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  26. ^ "CLICS³ - Concept BANDICOOT". Retrieved 2 March 2021.

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of bandicoot at Wiktionary