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Endangered Australian Animals: The Endangered Numbat

One of the most ecologically most dangerous things to do is tamper with an animal’s ecosystem. The ramifications of doing so can have irreversible effects. Australia, which has animals that are found no where else in the world, is at risk of losing the Numbat, from other foreign specie integration.

Australia is one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world. Isolated from the rest of the world, Australia and its inhabitants have adapted free from the rest of the world for millions of years. The cycle of life of life is perfectly balanced; however, the introduction of foreign species has wrecked havoc with the natural balance of things.

Animals that are normally kept in check are now being threatened due to foreign predators that are introduced in Australia. These species have no natural predators and are able to multiple and hunt at will. This unnatural balance has caused a disturbance in Australia which threatens a number of animals to the point of extinction.

Australia is a perfect example of how feral animals being introduced into an environment has long lasting drastic affects on the wildlife.

Happyhippie.com will point out a number of inhabitants in Australia that are in danger of extinction due to an unbalanced ecosystem in our multi part series on the endangered animals down under in our 4 part special on the great outback.

Part 1 Numbat

 

The first animal is the Numbat which is at the brink of extinction in the Australia. The numbat is a marsupial without a pouch and is facing extinction due to feral foxes and feral cats which are not native to Australia. The numbat is one of the few marsupials that are active during the day. It sleeps in hollow fallen logs, and sometimes may dig a burrow.

Kingdom: Animalia

Class: Mammalia

Infraclass: Marsupialia

Family: Myrmecobiidae

Genus: Myrmecobius

Species: M. fasciatus

Numbers: 900

 

Habitat: The numbat is a small marsupial that is found only in a small woodland area of Western Australia. Its habitat is eucalyptus woodland. They are also found in grasslands with Western Australia.

Food: The numbat is the only marsupial that feeds only on insects. The primarily only eat only termites (white ants). The insects stick to the numbat's tongue and are taken into the mouth similar to the antelope. Numbat’s eat about 20,000 termites a day.

Characteristics: They are also called 'the banded anteater', they have long sticky tongues to catch termites and have reddish-brown fur.

Body and Appearance: The numbat’s fur is reddish-brown, with white stripes across its back. The body is about 24 cm long, and it has a brushy tail about 17 cm long. They have a narrow head with a pointy muzzle and a long thin sticky tongue that it flicks into holes where termites are.

Life Cycle: Males and females mate around December. Female numbats give birth to up to 4 young. Each tiny young attaches itself to one of four teats on the outside of the mother's belly for about 5 months. Young are then moved to a nest in a burrow. By late spring they are ready to move away and find their own territory.

Conservation Status and Threats:

The numbat is rare and endangered. Its numbers have been reduced by habitat loss and by foreign animals, which are introduced animals. There are three main factors that have contributed to the decline of the Numbat: habitat destruction, introduced predators and fire.

  • habitat loss
  • brush fires
  • feral predators
  • genetic separation of populations through fragmentation, and susceptibility to disease

The numbat was widespread throughout the wheat belt of Western Australia until the early 1960s. However, increased clearing of bush for agriculture the numbat population has dramatically declined. The clearing of land for agriculture, which eliminates dead and fallen trees have considerably reduced numbat numbers because these fallen trees are where termites are found and this eliminates the numbat’s food source.

The few numbats that survived the clearing of their food source are isolated in small reserves are extremely vulnerable to introduced predators such as foxes, domestic dogs and feral cats which are not native to Australia. The foxes and feral cats have no natural predators and have been able to hunt the numbats without any repercussions; thereby decimating the number of numbats.

Foxes and feral cats introduced into Australia are efficient predators and have had a significant impact on Numbat numbers in the wild. Abandoned domestic dogs and cats are also likely to attack and eat numbats.

The combination of introduced predators and large fires saw the end of the numbat in the desert and threaten the remaining numbats that are left in Western Australia.

The numbat is an amazing animal that is close to being wiped off the face of Australia due to man’s negligence in handling the environment and their inability to control animal’s not native to Australia. These animals are slowly taking over the native animals in Australia and without a proper animal management the unique animals of Australia will be forever lost.

Next the Bandicoot


Copyright Happyhippie.com 2007

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