Northern Brown Bandicoot
Australia has over 50 marsupial mammals that are carnivorous (part of the Dasyurid family), with all having furry tails and pointed snouts. The largest and most famous of these is the Tasmanian Devil. They disappeared from the Australian mainland, most likely due to predation from dingos when they arrived in Australia. Tasmanian Devils possess extremely strong jaws and have a very distinctive scream that can be heard into the evening.
Living in dens, they scavenge for food and can hunt wallabies, possums and wombats. The population has been decimated recently by a viral disease causing facial tumours, with 90% of animals effected. In 2013, a group of 28 healthy devils were released on Maria Island and have since bred successfully. There are other pockets in Tasmania that seem to be immune to the disease where these intriguing animals can be observed and hopefully preserved for future generations.
Tasmania is also the only place to see the Eastern Quoll and provides plentiful viewing opportunities for the Spotted-tailed Quoll. Quolls have attractive white spots on their fur and pink noses. They typically feed on birds, insects fruits and small mammals with their sharp teeth. The Northern Quoll is the smallest of the four species in Australia and can be seen across Kakadu & Arnhem Land, especially around rocky outcrops taking advantage of their climbing prowess. Western Quolls have been introduced to the Flinders Ranges recently, with only 6,000 individuals remaining in the southwestern region of Australia.
Bandicoots are omnivorous marsupials, and are distinct due to their tapering snouts and upright ears. Numbers have decreased significantly since European settlement, with Tasmania the best place to see the Eastern Barred and the Southern Brown Bandicoot. Northern Brown Bandicoots are larger than their southern cousins, and can be seen across Kakadu and Arnhem Land.
Summer: Dec-Feb, Maria Island
Maria Island is one of the hotspots in Australia to view Common Wombat that can be seen year round including summer. Growing to 20-30kg, Tasmania has it’s own subspecies, with this adept burrowing mammal seen in significant concentrations around all the former farming pastures on Maria, especially at Darlington at Return Point.
There are two wallabies found on Maria Island. The Bennett’s Wallaby has slightly different adaptations compared with its mainland cousin, the Red-necked Wallaby, with longer, darker and shaggier fur. Breeding typically commences late in the summer between February and April. Tasmanian Pademelons can also be spotted in or close to pockets of dense undergrowth.
December to February is also a great time to see young Tasmanian Devils as they become more independent from their parents. Found only in Tasmania, they are the world’s largest marsupial carnivore. In 2013 a group of 28 healthy devils were released on to the island as an ‘island insurance’ breeding program safeguard from the facial tumour disease currently affecting 90% of the population. They have now successfully bred to around 100 animals.
Autumn: Mar-May, Maria Island
The island’s population of Tasmanian Devils typically breed in March, with their young born in April after a 21 day gestation. Two or three survive from each litter and are carried in the mother’s pouch for about four months. Found only in Tasmania, they are the world’s largest marsupial carnivore and are successfully breeding across the island after being introduced in 2013.
Common Wombats are abundant across the island, with each individual having an established range in which it lives and feeds. At this time of year, it is typical to see this amazing burrowers grazing during the day in the open pastures. Interestingly, Tasmanian Devils are know to use wombat burrows around this time, as den sites for their young.
The Tasmanian Pademelon feeds on a wide variety of plants, from herbs, green shoots and grass, to some nectar-bearing flowers whilst the grasslands provide fantastic daytime viewing of Forester Kangaroos, Red-necked Wallabies and occasionally, the Short-beaked Echidna.
Spring: Sep-Nov, Maria Island
The Spring time is a peak season for seeing the numerous baby marsupials as they leave the pouch or dens to become more independent. Forester Kangaroos are easy to spot on the airstrip and pastures at Darlington, where gregarious groups of up to ten individuals commonly graze.
Tasmanian Pademelons and Bennett’s Wallabies also venture into the clearings in the late afternoon and evening, but prefer to reside in the thick undergrowth by day. The Tasmanian Pademelon will feed on a wide variety of plants, from herbs, green shoots and grass, to some nectar-bearing flowers.
The island’s population of Tasmanian Devils emerge from their dens with imps (baby devils) often seen on their backs towards the start of Spring. The devils emerge from or return to their dens at twilight or in the last hours of darkness in the morning. Imps are born in April and remain in pouch for 15 weeks and are completely weaned at 40 weeks. Common Wombats are also abundant at this time, with individuals being territorial and solitary with an established range for feeding.
Summer: Dec-Feb, Tasmania
The summer months are a peak time to see young carnivorous marsupials including Tasmanian Devils, Spotted-tailed and Eastern Quolls. Quolls are largely solitary animals and scavenge on insects and small mammals such as rabbits, mice and rats. They are found around various habitats, especially around Mt Field National Park.
December is the time to keep a lookout for baby Platypus and baby Ringtail Possums riding around on their mother’s back. Common Wombats avoid the heat of the day, coming out to graze in the mornings and afternoons when temperatures are lower. Although the wombat may breed at any time of the year, mating most often occurs during winter, so at this time, baby wombats can be seen in tow with their mothers.
Eastern-barred Bandicoots, Southern-brown Bandicoots, Long-nosed Potoroos, Forester Kangaroos, Bennett’s Wallabies, Tasmanian Pademelons and Tasmanian Bettongs are also commonly sighted with their young at this time.
Autumn: Mar-May, Tasmania
Macropod joeys such as Forester Kangaroos, Bennett’s Wallabies, Tasmanian Pademelons, Tasmanian Bettongs and Long-nosed Potoroos are typically weaned off their mothers around this time and follow their mothers around. The Long-nosed Potoroo feeds upon seeds, roots, bulbs, insects, but prefers underground fungi which is dug up using their strong forepaws.
Tasmanian Devils usually breed in March, with their young born in April after a 21 day gestation. Two or three survive from each litter and are carried in the mother’s pouch for about four months. Common Brushtail and Ringtail Possums also typically give birth from April onwards, with a couple of young remaining in the pouch for about four months.
This time of year also provides opportunities to see Short-beaked Echidnas before they enter periods of hibernation and Common Wombats, that are abundant at various national parks including Narawntapu and Cradle Mountain.
Winter: Jun-Aug, Tasmania
Eastern-barred and Southern-brown Bandicoots young are born between late May and December, with females having the ability to produce 3-4 litters of up to four young. Breeding also occurs in early winter for Eastern and Spotted-tail Quolls with females giving birth to up to 30 young, however, with only six teats, there is a high mortality rate.
The cooler conditions are ideal for spotting a range of marsupials including Common Wombats, Long-nosed Potoroos, Forester Kangaroos, Bennett’s Wallabies and Tasmanian Pademelons. Tasmanian Devils start to emerge from their dens towards the latter part of winter, with imps (baby devils) often seen on their backs. The devils emerge from or return to their dens at twilight or in the last hours of darkness in the morning.
Spring: Sep-Nov, Tasmania
Spring is the peak season for seeing a number of Tasmania’s baby marsupials as they leave the pouch for the first time including Forester Kangaroos, Bennett’s Wallabies, Tasmanian Pademelons, Common Brushtail and Ringtail Possums.
Long-nosed Potoroos and Tasmanian Bettongs have no specific breeding season, with animals capable of giving birth throughout the year, although there is a skew of young being born at the end of winter to early spring. The Tasmanian Bettong is only found in the eastern half of Tasmania and can be seen across the dry open eucalypt forests and grassy woodlands in late afternoons and early evening, being largely nocturnal.
The island’s population of Tasmanian Devils emerge from their dens with imps (baby devils) often seen on their backs towards the start of spring. Common Wombats are also abundant at this time.